Friday, July 1, 2011

Jagr Signs with Flyers

Jaromir Jagr has signed a 1 year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers.

May he burn in hell.

Pens, Wings Both Out on Jagr

If Jaromir Jagr was serious about a return to the NHL and trying to compete for a Stanley Cup, waiting it out until July 1st may have burned two of his best bridges to do so.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Redwings have both pulled their offers, expected to be around $2M each for Jagr's services.

As we have stated often here, Jagr is just crazy enough that there is at least a 2% chance that he will do pretty much anything. Montreal has shown some interest, but it seems more and more like this 'comeback' was just a ruse to up his value to a Russian club. At 39, if he doesn't comeback this season, I don't forsee him ever getting another shot at playing in the NHL again.

Here are some links to prior Jagr stories we have covered here:

Jagr Comeback Watch: 6/29
Jagr Comeback Watch: 6/22
Jagr Comeback Watch: 6/21
Jagr Comeback Watch: 6/20
Jagr Comeback Watch: 5/12

Happy NHL UFA Day (Canada Day in Canada)

This has already been an intriguing offseason for the NHL, and things can get even more interesting today.

Here are some notes I’ve collected on various teams, players, and situations:

*Brad Richards is interesting, but the real drama surrounds Steven Stamkos, the 21 year old restricted free agent from the Tampa Bay Lightning. After a surprise trip to the Conference Finals this year, Steve Yzerman is probably going to match any offer thrown Stamkos’ way, but it will be interesting to see at what price the market bears, and if there is any line that Yzerman will not cross to retain his young franchise Center. According to, at least 19 teams have the available cap space to offer Stamkos a league maximum $12.86M contract.

*Speaking of all that cap space: some GMs are going to make utterly stupid, franchise soul crushing deals today. It’s just a given, with the weak crop of FAs and the amount of space created with the surprising increase in league revenues. Giving Glen Sather $25M of cap space on July 1st is like putting Charlie Sheen in front of a small mountain of cocaine on his birthday. Come December there will already be hoards of fans looking back in regret at some dumb moves made today.

*Even some traditionally lower spending, less aggressive, teams have been throwing some weight around in the pre-July 1st buildup. The Florida Panthers have taken on over $10M in salary from the Chicago Blackhawks in the form of Brian Campbell and Tomas Kopecky. The Buffalo Sabres traded for the rights to, and then inked Christian Ehrhoff to a 10 year deal and added tough blueliner Robyn Regeher to go with him. The Columbus Bluejackets dealt for Jeff Carter, formerly of the Philadelphia Flyers, and brought in James Wisniewski to sign for a big deal. And even the lowly New York Islanders have been making some noise about trying to bring some marquee talent back to Long Island.

*One of the reasons we have seen some trades, is that after the big guy (Brad Richards) at the top, there is not a lot of premium talent out there at the UFA level this year. Simon Gagne is intriguing, but a definite injury concern. Erik Cole might be able to help bolster some teams offense, but proved in his stint in Edmonton that he can’t carry a load himself and needs some good supporting guys on his line. After that it’s a bunch of mid-tier guys like Tyler Kennedy, Scottie Upshall, Tim Connolly, Ville Leino, Brenden Morrison, and Sergei Samsonov. Those are all guys who may have some potential, but none of them are elite game breaking talents. They are either really talented 3rd liners or fill in quality top 6 forwards.

*Then you have the older guys looking for one last deal. For Mike Modano, Kris Draper, and Doug Weight that magic # of 40 may mean the end of the road. Teemu Selanne proved he still had it last year, but for him its supposedly the Ducks or nothing. Alexei Kovalev will probably find warmer welcome in the KHL than any North American rink this fall. John Madden, Andrew Brunette, Cory Stillman, and Jason Arnott are all in their late 30s and could fill in well in a role for a contending team, or chase the most money on a retirement deal in say, Long Island.

*On the Defensive side of the zone, Tomas Kaberle is the big “get.” Ask any Toronto fan how much they want him back. Ed Jovanovski could be an intriguing pickup for some teams looking for blueline help. I irrationally hate Roman Hamrlik. Ian White is versatile. Bryan McCabe and Sean O’Donnell are old, and play like it.

*If a team is looking for help between the pipes, some options are available. No big names are out there, but plenty of 1A type guys who will get you through. Tomas Vokoun and Brian Boucher are the most solid of the bunch. After that it is a mismash of former Senators, Redwings, Bluejackets, and Avs.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jagr Comeback Percentage Breakdown

Once and Future NHL Superstar Jaromir Jagr is on his way on a plane to New York to announce his return to play in North America.

Here is my percentage breakdown of chances Jagr says the following when stepping off the Plane in JFK this afternoon:

80% “I’m going back to my hockey roots and playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins. I’m honored to be working for my hockey idol Mario Lemieux and thrilled to be playing with great young talents such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang. My one condition: the team goes back to its mid-90s odd colored alternate jerseys with the triangle pigeon logo so I can truly feel at home.”

11% “I’m looking forward for a new opportunity to play in Soff Euro-troit. Their non-physical, absolutely no fighting, puck possession, subtle interference running, skate all over the neutral zone style is exactly the kind of hockey my game is tailored for.”

5% “Je suis super a excité à être le prochain Européen énigmatique pour venir à Montréal être adoré comme un dieu bizarre. J'aimerais remercier mon google traduit application de téléphone pour ce texte prêt.”

1% “I’m taking my talents to South Beach and signing with the Florida Panthers. Like Lebron, I will demand a contract where I get to take off the final period of crucial playoff games.”

1% “I would like to come here to America to announce my retirement from pro-hockey to pursue a lifelong dream of chasing the lochness monster around the Scottish Highlands”

1% “I’m just here for a quick trip down to the Jersey City blackjack tables, what are all you media types doing here?”

1% Gets off plane, runs over to high-five Mario Lemieux, makes a sharp turn at the last second, from behind a pillar out jumps Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Chris Pronger. They beat down Lemieux unmercifully, Jagr rips off his Pens jersey to reveal a NWO/Flyer sweater underneath. Lays out the Big Guy with a stinky leg drop then hoists him back up in order to super kick him through a plate glass window. They spray paint the limp body of the Penguins owner while Brent Johnson glares down from the rafters dressed like Brandon Lee.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2012 GOP Nomination Standings, Week 5

Click Here for Prior Weeks Standings:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Michelle Bachmann has vaulted up from a strong showing on a national debate, some positive press, and a new Iowa poll showing her nipping at the heels of the Romney campaign. She will be listed as trending up, but really she has skyrocketed from potential tea party darkhorse to household name seemingly overnight. She has some serious, serious momentum behind her and if her fundraising numbers come up strong, she can easily overtake Romney for the #1 spot. But not quite yet. Let’s see where this all is heading before we start to do a state by state breakdown of her vs. Obama.

I know there is some Rudy Giulliani speculation out there. I don’t think he will run, and if he does run, I don’t think he’ll put in enough effort to win. Rudy is still a recognizable name-brand in some circles, but an empty and hollow one in proper context. He might have squeezed into the 11th spot on this list if I had one, but I feel that the 10 folks listed above are either more serious about running (Santorum and Pawlenty) or have a better chance to win the nomination if they do jump in (Palin and Perry), so the former NYC mayor remains outside my core group of candidates.

This is also the 1st time since I started these rankings that my list consists of the same 10 candidates as the last list, I think that is a sign that as we get into the summer that the field is solidifying. Anyone seriously thinking of getting involved, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, better start organizing teams quickly, before this train leaves the station, if they want to have a legitimate chance to win. History shows that late coming ‘saviors’ to the party get a quick boost media fueled spike, but fizzle out as the logistics of being months behind in fund raising and ground organization ultimately dooms them.

1) Mitt Romney Trending Steady(Last Week: 1) Lost in all the Bachmann hoopla is the fact that frontrunner Romney still won a plurality of the Iowa poll which vaulted her into the primetime conversation. His money numbers can be expected to blow smaller ships out of the water. He got to this point for a good reason, and he may be vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean he will be an easy knock off.
Current Headline: Mitt Romney, Boring Genius?

2) Michelle Bachmann Trending Up (Last Week: 6) Things sure are looking up for Bachmann. It was obvious that there was plenty of room at the top of the field, and she surged into the vacuum to challenge Romney, whom hardline conservatives see as weak and compromising. Can she unite and hold the ‘Anyone but Romney’ voters all under one tent?
Current Headline: Michele Bachmann's Moment: Can She Sustain It?

3) Herman Cain Trending Steady (Last Week: 3) Bachmann halted Cain’s advance to a dead stand still. He can really go either way from here, but the potential upswing has been blunted by the space that Bachmann now occupies. He has to be smart and prove his business sense can translate to political savvy to stay this high in the running.
Current Headline: Black GOP Candidate Missing Right Words

4) Sarah Palin Trending Down (Last Week: 2) I’m beginning to really believe Palin when she says that she isn’t sure if she is running for president or not. Everything seems to indicate to me that Palin is just winging and ad-libbing her way through this summer. She has proven to be a loose cannon in the past, so who really knows with the former Alaska Gov. But I don’t think you do as many bus tours as she is without at least making a run. With Palin though, anything is possible.
Current Headline: Not a Whisper From Palin

5) Ron Paul Trending Steady (Last Week: 5) Paul has become the dividing line between those in the hunt and those in trouble. If you are above Paul, you are in serious contention. Fall below and it may be time to rethink some strategies. Paul remains constant, the rest of the field shifts. What else would you expect from an old congressman who is more devoutly independent than 95% of his colleagues?
Current Headline: Ron Paul’s Anti-Fed Message Drives 2012 White House Bid Gaining Respect

6) Rick Perry Trending Up (Last Week: 8) If the Texas Governor wants to get into the field, he had better make his decision soon, but if he is in, he has a strong chance to make up ground quickly. He is not one to shy away from controversy or a political bout. He would at least make the debates very interesting if and when the gloves come off.
Current Headline: Rick Perry's "Tough-Talking" Texan Brand May Help Him In The Primaries

7) John Huntsman Trending Up (Last Week: 10) The good thing about being a candidate most voters have not heard of: you still have plenty of room and time to change their minds. Trying the John McCain model in 2012 though may be a tough, if not impossible, road to the nomination.
Current Headline: Selling John Huntsman, the Un-Republican

8) Tim Pawlenty Trending Down (Last Week: 4) If Iowa’s poll numbers were a boon for Bachmann, they were an absolute bust for Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. He has staked a lot in his neighbor state, and a poor showing there will all but doom his campaign. His constant focus on foreign policy in what looks to be a heavily domestic driven campaign is starting to seem bizarre as well.
Current Headling: Pawlenty Goes After "Isolationist" Republicans

9) Newt Gingrich Trending Down (Last Week: 7) Things just keep looking worse for Gingrich in 2012. His staff is abandoning him, his numbers are dropping, and the press and talk radio are killing him over attacking Paul Ryan’s fiscal plan. The end may be near for Newt.
Current Headline: Can Big Ideas Restart Newt's Engine?

10) Rick Santorum Trending Down (Last Week: 9) The unrepentant social conservative from PA keeps plugging away. It is a long, uphill climb for him to even seriously get into the conversation however. His best chance has been, and remains, to latch on as a potential VEEP.
Current Headline: Is Rick Santorum In Line For Vice President?

If you are interested in anything else in regards to these rankings, please leave a comment below or email me:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pens take blueliner

Pittsburgh drafted Joe Morrow, a 6-foot, 197-pound defenseman from the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, with the 23rd pick in the NHL Draft Friday night in Minnesota.
I don't know too much on Morrow, except that he won't be laying out big hits any time soon.
The draft is different than football or basketball because it takes time for some of the guys to develop. Unless, of course, they are named Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin or Jordan Staal to name a few on the Penguins' roster.
I guess blueline depth is always needed. I'm sure they made the right choice.

Friday, June 24, 2011

NHL 2012 Division Realignment with Winnipeg

The word out of some media outlets is that Gary Bettman has put forward a plan with the League’s Board of Governors, to return to a 4 division format, with divisional playoff play, for the 2012/2013 season.

This is something I would support, along with White Uniforms at home and a return to "Named" Divisions.

If the plan is implemented, there would be two conferences, each with 1 seven, and 1 eight team division. Each team would play home and away against every other team in the league for the first time in over a decade. The new divisions would be the Pacific, Midwest, East, and South.

Detroit and Columbus are both being promised moves East. That would mean another team besides Winnipeg would have to head West. My guess is Toronto, which will reunite with some of its old Norris Division Rivals in the "Midwest."

Here is my breakdown as to how that would shake out geographically:

New York
New York
New Jersey

Tampa Bay

St. Louis

Los Angeles
San Jose

Flyers Explode Roster; Shakeup Hockey World

When the Flyers goalie situation imploded in the 2nd round of the Playoffs this spring and the team was swept by Tim Thomas and the eventual Cup winning Bruins, owner Ed Snider had finally seen enough. He ORDERED General Manager Paul Holmgren to rectify the situation in the Flyers net that had been left derelict since Ron Hextall skated away to Quebec in a fit of rage.
In following his bosses orders Holmgren brought in the hottest name available, trading for the rights to restricted free agent Ilya Bryzgalov from the Phoenix Coyotes. Holmgren only then faced one problem: he was up against the salary cap and would need to move some cash off his roster to free up room to sign the hottest goalie on the market. Rumors swirled around trade deadline addition Kris Versteeg and middle pairing defenseman Matt Carle. Absolutely nobody in the hockey world saw the combination of brazen moves that Holmgren was really cooking up coming down the pike.
Within an hour time span yesterday, instead of tinkering around the margins, Holmgren boldly blew up the very core of his roster, trading away Team Captain Mike Richards to the LA Kings and Assistant Captain and prime sniper Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets. In doing so Holmgren cleared out a combined 20 years and $109.6 million off the team’s books through the 2021-2022 season.
In trading Richards to the Kings, the Flyers picked up versatile tough guy winger Wayne Simmonds and the Kings top prospect, 19 year old Brayden Schenn, and a 2nd round pick for the upcoming NHL entry draft.
In dealing Carter to Columbus, the Flyers acquired a former 1st round pick in Czech Winger Jakub Voracek, and two more picks for the current draft, the 1st round (8th overall) and 3rd round picks from the Jackets this year. Schenn is signed on an entry level contract for the next 3 seasons, and Simmonds and Voracek are both restricted free agents. Holmgren had better do his damndest to ink those guys by July 1, or he will have some major egg on his face. He did manage to bring Bryzgalov under wraps, signing him to a 10 year deal, with an annual Cap hit of $5.6 million dollars. That leaves his squad with $7.5 million in cap space, and sets them up nicely with a bunch of young assets to build around at forward. It does hurt them however in short term production up front, for a team who’s defense and goalie are signed to win RIGHT NOW.
There is rampant speculation that the other shoe is ready to drop, whether it be a UFA signing of Brad Richards from the Stars, or deal to bring in restricted Free Agent Steven Stamkos from the Tampa Bay Lightning, one hardly gets the feeling that things are completely settled in Flyerland. If they had simply traded Carter for Voracek and picks, that would have been an understandable salary dump to sign a goalie. But in moving their Captain in Mike Richards, the Flyers signaled a seismic shift in the way the organization will be structured going forward. And as the ground shifted under them, other teams felt some aftershocks as well.
The team setup to come out best immediately from this is the LA Kings. With Anze Kopitar already in the fold, Richards gives them an elite 1-2 punch at Center along the lines of Cup contenders like Detroit(Datsyuk/Zetterberg), Pittsburgh (Crosby/Malkin), and Chicago (Toews/Sharp). They have some good young goaltending in place, adequate role players at wing, and a solid defensive core. They will also be able to unload winger Ryan Smyth, whose numbers have been decreasing in production relative to his salary in recent years. Smyth wants to go home to Alberta, and the Kings will probably get something decent in return from either the Flames or the Oilers for the Canadian hero. The Flames already moved Robyn Regehr to the Buffalo Sabres in anticipation of bidding for Smyth.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are not as close to contention as the Kings, but they FINALLY have their legitimate #1 Center in Carter to play alongside their longtime standout Rick Nash. So the Flyers have a solid Goalie and the Jackets have an elite Center. This may be signs of a forthcoming hockey apocalypse. I like the Blue Jackets up front now, especially if they bring back Scottie Upshall, but on their blueline it’s a bad combination of too young, and too average. When Grant Clitsome and Fedor Tyutin are your ‘name’ guys on defense, that is never a good sign. They do have a massive $21 million in cap space however, and some key pieces in place to at least shape themselves into a playoff team, so lets wait and see how the situation unfolds for Ohio hockey.
Things got very interesting in the trade market yesterday, and with the draft taking place this weekend, Jagr still floating out there (although the league ruled he won’t be able to sign till July 1 now) and Ryan Smyth ready to move back home, don’t expect things to settle down from now through the start of free agency.

Defiance Yielding No Results

Make no mistake that the economy of the US has been broken, in some sense, for a considerable amount of time. The unprecedented down turn that has transpired over the past few years seems as if it is never going away. I am just wondering if the GOP wants to keep it that way, at least through the 2012 elections, if not permanently.

John Boehner spoke about reducing debt by cutting spending and pleaded for tax cuts. Now, when given a chance to approve a tax cut that could help create jobs, Boehner wags his finger "No". I often wonder if that is the only word some on the far right know, "No".  I don't recall Boehner ever mentioning any desire to pass bills to create jobs, just asking where they were. Over and over and over again. So in that respect, you can't say he hasn't kept up his word. He never promised to create jobs, just inquire as to their wherabouts. However, to see a republican refuse tax cuts is something on a parallel with Haley' Comet. Every hundred years or so.

Boehner doesn't want to support a bill that will give tax cuts to businesses for creating jobs because he only sees it as a short term solution. With the unemployment rate being what it is and the economy making no strides currently, any solution, short or long term, should be considered progress. But that isn't what Boehner and the GOP want to see. They don't want progress. They don't want jobs created. They don't the economy to recover. They want it to fail and pin it all on Obama.

Since taking over control of the House, there have been no jobs bills passed. There has been a bill delaying regulation on food and gas prices, but nothing to create jobs. Why would we expect Boehner and his constituents to create jobs? They already have them, funded by the tax payers with nice expense accounts and transportation and 5 star accommodations covered on our dime. I have yet to see any member of the GOP decry such spending as wasteful. That's because they don't really care about government spending as a whole( see Bush Adminsistration 2001-2009 for proof), they care about government spending when it doesn't benefit them and their backers. It's okay for John Q. Public to pay these folks salaries and benefits, but let's see to it they get nothing in return.

And that is where we stand: more elected officials talking a big game, getting a big tax payer subsidized salary and doing nothing in return. Now, if you consider blocking bills that could help stimulate the economy and job growth through obstructionism and child-like defiance a return, then you are getting your money's worth.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jagr Comeback Watch, June 22

The Jagr comeback is definitely boiling down to a choice between the Redwings "Style of Play" and the Penguins "Legacy and desire to Come Home" for #68.

The Devils had been identified by multiple reports as the 3rd "darkhorse" mystery team, but I don't think they are actually in serious consideration by Jagr's camp.

Jagr is also reported to be seeking a cap friendly amount, somewhere in the $2-3 million range. That contract will not break the bank for bringing in other crucial parts for either Pittsburgh or Detroit in their pursuit of a Title.

The word is that negotiations and talks are ongoing with both clubs, and a decision could come as soon as this weekend at the NHL entry draft.

Whichever of the two teams Jagr chooses, it will be a big boost for that franchise in trying to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals after two quasi-frustrating years of early round playoff exits. Neither team will be able to find a better offensive weapon on the open market for the discounted rate that Jagr is reported to be willing to come back to the NHL for this offseason.

Jagr Comeback Watch: 6/21

Jagr Comeback Watch: 6/20

Jagr Comeback Watch: 5/12

Bruins Celebrate Cup Win: $156,679.74 Bar Tab

The Boston Bruins Celebrated their Stanley Cup victory in a HUGE way racking up a $150K+ bar tab in Connecticut Saturday night.

The majority of that astonishing total was spent on a $100,000 bottle listed on the bill as Ace MIDAS. What did they do make the bottle out of gold? Well yes, yes they did.

It’s a $100,000 30 liter bottle from the Champagne house Cattier. The Gold Metallic bottles are crafted entirely by hand, inspired by fashion designer Andre Courreges. There were 6 bottles in existence in the entire world. There are now 5 after the Bruins drank one out of the Cup. Here is a picture for a size comparison with the Cup. It may be $100k, but it is certainly a “Chara” sized bottle.

Our crack research staff here at Puck_and_Pols did some futher investigation into that crazy New England night and determined the following from the bill-

A) 'Creepy-Comic-Store-Clerk’ voiced Tim Thomas was on the 2 Coors Lights. Goalies are always the weird, non-conformist ones.

B) The ‘soff’ Euros on the team had to be the ones ordering Amstel, Blue Moon, and Heinikens.

C) 19 year old rookie winger Tyler Seguin underwent the hazing of a lifetime that night

D) Mark Recchi ordered the Corona in preparation for his well earned tour of the world’s greatest beaches next winter after grinding out a 20 year career.

E) 136 Bud Lights, at 20 players on the active roster + we’ll give them 10 guys who were injured and the minor league call-ups = 4.5 beers per player. And that is obviously just the tip of the iceberg, when you take into account all the shots and champagne it just gets nuts.
Crazy Canadians.

Finally: They obviously ordered the Kami Kazi because they were trying to drink the alphabet and needed a drink that started with “C”

NHL Award tonight in Vegas

For those of you that haven't experienced Sin Las Vegas, you're missing out.
I believe that's why the NHL hosts its annual awards show in Sin City.
The show will air tonight on Versus at 7 p.m. and I'm here to offer my picks.
First off, congratulations to the Boston Bruins for their remarkable run in winning the Stanley Cup. What a finals it was between them and the Vancouver Canucks.
The Hart Memorial Trophy, given to the NHL MVP, will be won by the Canucks' Daniel Sedin. Sedin had 41 goals and 63 assists for 104 this past season. He was also a plus 30 for the Presidents' Trophy winners.
The other finalists are Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis and Anaheim's Corey Perry. Perry led the league in goals with 50. St. Louis led the Lightning with 99 points.
I hate to be a homer, but it's a shame that Sidney Crosby missed all those games with a concussion. If Crosby had played a full season, he would have bettered his career-high of 120 points and may have scored over 50 goals.
The Vezina Trophy, which is awarded to the best goalie, will be won by Boston's Tim Thomas. Thomas won 35 games for the Stanley Cup champions and had a goals against average of 2.00 and a save percentage of .938.
The Canucks' Roberto Luongo and Nashville's Pekka Rinne are the other finalists.
Thomas was exceptional this season, and deserves the award. Keep in mind that the votes are in before the playoffs and I'm trying, even though it's hard, to judge my picks by the regular season. Thomas was the best, though.
The James Norris Trophy (best defensive player) will be won by Boston's Zdeno Chara. The Bruins' captain put up 44 points on 14 goals and 30 assists and was a plus 33. Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom is going for his seventh award, but I believe Chara was more important to his team, defensively. Nashville's Shea Weber, who has a wicked slap shot, is the other finalist. I believe Weber is a future winner of this award.
Carolina center Jeff Skinner will take home the hardware by winning the Calder Memorial Trophy. Skinner had 31 goals and 32 assists for 63 points. San Jose's Logan Couture and New York Islanders' Michael Grabner are the other finlists.
Lidstrom will take home the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy that is given for sportsmanship. Lidstrom is a class act, and so are Dallas' Loui Eriksson and St. Louis, the other finalists, but everyone respects the Red Wings' captain.
The Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is given to the best defensive forward, will be won by Vancouver's Ryan Kesler. Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk and Chicago's Jonathan Toews are the other finalists. Datsyuk is constantly mentioned as the best defensive forward in the game by the national media, however Kesler had a great season.
The Jack Adams Trophy is awarded to the league's best coach, and Pittsbugh's Dan Bylsma will get the honor. And no, I'm not being a homer. Bylsma did a tremendous job of guiding the Penguins to the playoffs with 106 points after losing stars Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
The Canucks' Alain Vigneault and the Predators' Barry Trotz are the other finalists. Trotz is a very close second in my book. Vigneault did lead Vancouver to the Presidents' Trophy, but he had a very talented team to work with. My opinion of the best coach is the guy that deals with the least amount of talent and has success.
The Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy is given to the player who exemplifies sportsmanship, preservance and dedication to hockey. The nominees this year are Anaheim's Ray Emery, Calgary's Daymond Langkow and Philadelphia's Ian Laperriere.
I don't know too much about these guys, so I'll go with Langkow. I don't believe a Flyer deserves this award and I'm not feeling Emery on this one, either.
The Ted Lindsay Award (formely Lester B. Pearson Award) is voted on by the National Hockey League Players' Association to the "most outstanding player."
Up this year for the award are Perry, Sedin and St. Louis.
Sedin will get the nod from his fellow players and I agree with that pick. Perry did score the most goals, but Sedien had the most points, and I believe the guys he plays against will agree.
The Mark Messier Leadership Award is picked by the man himself after suggestions for the nominees are taken from fans, clubs and personnel.
The three finalists are Chara, Phoenix's Shane Doan and Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom.
I believe Messier will pick Lidstrom. I would go with Chara, but what do I know.
The NHL Foundation Award, which is basically the community service award, will be won by Los Angeles' Dustin Brown, although all these guys deserve to be honored for the work they do. The other finalists are both Henrik and Daniel Sedin of the Canucks and Washington's Mike Green.
Daniel Sedin will grab some hardware for scoring the most points and Perry will be awarded his trophy for scoring the most goals in the season.
Awards shows stink, in my opinion, but at least look up the results.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jagr Comeback Watch, June 21st

It seems that Jaromir Jagr is quite serious about making a return to the NHL after playing 3 years in Russia's KHL. The 39 year old winger seems to be focused on Detroit, Pittsburgh (where he began his NHL career), and a third unnamed team (not Montreal or Washington )according to his agent. My best guess at mystery team #3 would be the New York Rangers.

He has spoken with Redwing's coach Mike Babcock about how he would fit into his teams system, and Penguins owner (and former teammate of Jagr) Mario Lemieux has also reached out to Jagr.

Both teams have been in contact with Jagr's agents in the past few days. As Jagr is currently not under a contract with a NHL club, he would be eligible to sign a deal before the July 1st date that current unrestricted free agents have to wait until. The NHL salary cap is going up to around $64 million this season, according to, the Penguins have about $8 Million to work with under the Cap for the upcoming season and the Redwings have around $10 Million.

Jagr Comeback Watch: 6/20

Jagr Comeback Watch: 5/12

Hypocritical Hilarity

The Republican Leadership Council had an event over the weekend that featured a man by the name of Reggie Brown impersonating President Obama. From the video I saw, he was excellent. He looked like the President, he sounded like the President, he had the same mannerisms. The audience also found him to be a riot ( not in the Vancouver sense), at least in the beginning of his set. Brown started off by making some racist jokes about the President's mixed heritage. He commented that while February was his favorite month, his wife celebrates the whole month and he only celebrates half. The audience laughed uncontrollably at this as well as his next joke where he noted that his mom was a white woman who loved a black man but she wasn't a Kardashian. However, when Brown joked about Mitt Romney having a first lady and a second lady and a third lady and so on, the crowd turned on him. When he was about to joke about Michele Bachmann, his mic was cut off and he was taken off stage to a chorus of boos.

Charlie Davis, head of the RLC, said that he was pulled off for the racial insensitivity of his jokes. Anybody who watched the video cannot possibly buy that explanation. The audience was rolling in the aisles when the Jim Crow jokes were flying around but when it was time to poke a little bit of fun at their own, they had none of it. I can't say this is surpring for the GOP, being that they are largely of the thin skinned and hypocritical nature. But I just wonder how many more of their blatant lies voters in the middle are willing to accept before they begin to sour?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Supreme Court Strikes Down Women of Walmart Class Action Suit

The Supreme Court today struck down a massive class action lawsuit by women throughout the Country who were claiming discrimination in wages and promotion opportunities based upon their gender.
The Majority Opinion, written by Antoin Scalia and supported by Justices Thomas, Roberts, Alito, and Kennedy, claims that the lower court classification of the female employees as a discriminated against class was not legally viable under prior precedent. The women therefore can continue to press forward in their individual cases, at their own expense, but will not be eligible for a class action settlement.
That these women received less pay and a lack of promotion opportunities, under the unofficial policies of local management, when compared to men in the same jobs with less senority and lower performance ratings, is not statistically in question. And yet, with the fig leaf of an 'official' corporate non-discrimination policy, Walmart was able to escape liability in the class action venue of legal pursuit by the highest court in the land.
This will allow Walmart to avoid a mass settlement and use divide and conquer tactics to deal with each offended party individually, putting a greater burden and cost on these working class ladies to pursue their own suits agaisnt the corporate giant.
This is a big win for corporate interests, and gives credance to Robert Kennedy Junior's recent claims that this current Supreme Court favors Big Corporations First, Big Government next, and puts the rights and recourse of everyday people last.

Jaromir Jagr Comeback?

As I've stated before once before on this blog, and many more times in different mediums, the Rule of Jagr is that he is just crazy enough that anything you hear about him and his future has a 2% chance of coming true.
The rumor mill surrounding Jagr has ramped up once again, with speculation being heavily focused recently on a possible return to the NHL with the Redwings. For those keeping track at home, he has also be linked in recent months to possible comebacks with the Montreal Canadians, Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and New York Rangers.
One of the more interesting aspects of the story that has been underreported is his purchase of his former Czech Elite Team, Kladno, which nurtured his talents as a young player. He has taken over the primary role as President of the Club from his father this February. The team is struggling financially and on the ice in recent seasons. I’m not an expert on the CBA, but would shoring up the finances of a European club with which Jagr has vested interests, or making a verbal commitment to do so upon his completion of service, be something that would be considered a violation of the established salary cap? I would think so, but it is such a unique circumstance that I doubt it is spelled out clearly, even in this league’s copious rulebooks.
I’m staying with my initial speculation that Jagr will stay in Russia, collect the largest amount of money he can there, and eventually retire home to Kladno and become the Czech Elite League version of Chris Chelios/Mark Recchi, playing there into his mid to late 40s. He has the talent and has been focused on conditioning long enough that he should be able to still contribute at that level for many more years. At what age will all the NHL return speculation cease to subsist? Damned if I know, but I’d say around 42.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Buc and The Thrash: A Cautionary Tale

(Please note, I am posting this in conjunction with a Baseball blog I contribute to as well)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. After years and years of a sports team posting losing records, trading away superstars for questionable returns, dwindling away their credibility in the community with incompetent roster management by a much ridiculed GM, and piss poor ownership support in terms of payroll authorizations, the team has started to, at least on the surface, turn the corner. A young nucleus of blossoming stars is shaping itself together. Fans who had abandoned their support of the team are starting to come back on board. A few savvy offseason acquisitions are performing well above expectations. It seems that everything is in place for the team, which had bottomed out the previous season, to start to make a legitimate run, at least for respectability, if not for Titles and Championships quite yet. Approaching the halfway point of the season, the team seems to be gelling and moving in the right direction. There is buzz about who, and how many total players, will be representing the franchise in the All-Star game.

This is obviously a situation that the Pittsburgh Pirates currently find themselves in, and that is fantastic for baseball, for the city, and most of all for the long suffering fans of the beleaguered franchise. Not to throw a wet-blanket upon unbridled optimism that is now surrounding this current squad and its possible future incarnations, but I’d like to pull some posts from one of my favorite sports blogs that was centered upon a team that found itself in a similar situation 6 months ago: The Atlanta Thrashers.

To say the “wheels fell off” for the Thrashers would not do their fans justice. The wheels fell off, the floor of the car rusted out, the driver (fans) fell through the floor, was dragged through a bramble bush on the roadside after falling out, and was left barely conscious on side of the road, when a roving rouge biker gang drove up, smashed in his car with baseball bats, set it on fire, took his wallet, and spit upon him and kicked him a few times in the gut just for good measure.

Now I’m not suggesting that the Pirates are going to be pulled up by the roots and relocated to the Central Canadian Prairie anytime soon. There is a better chance of the Pope resigning from his post as head of the Church to take up a lifelong secret desire to become a Hula Dancer.

But when reading over these posts take note of how a situation for a sports team that looked so promising in the not-so-distant past went horribly bad, horribly quickly. The posts are from the Bird Watcher’s Anonymous blog, a group of well informed, well written dedicated fans of the now defunct hockey team.


11/26/2010 I'm Thankful the Thrashers are Playing Smarter Hockey

The Atlanta Thrashers are playing the most intelligent brand of hockey in team history. Hallelujah! When the team first arrived in 1999 I was extremely excited to have the NHL in the city I call home. I watched every game that was televised and attended nearly every home game in person after Season 2. I watched many defeats and many bad decisions over the last decade. Given that context, I keep pinching myself when I watch this version of the Atlanta Thrashers--because they're playing a smarter brand of hockey. Many of the things that I'm seeing are subtle. About two weeks ago, I was at the home game and the Thrashers had a power play. The puck came over to the right side point men. That point man noticed that the opposing PK unit was sagging off him to protect the passing lanes. Inside of just burying his head and blasting a long shot, the Thrashers defenseman moved in towards the top of the circle which caused the defending PK man to move towards him opening up the middle of the ice more. It was a very small thing, but it was an adjustment that elite players or elite teams make and bad teams don't. It was an adjustment previous Thrashers teams rarely made. On Wednesday, the Thrashers beat a very good Red Wings team. The Wings didn't bring their best effort after the 1st period and the Thrashers made them pay for that. In the past, the Thrashers probably would have found a way to let the Red Wings climb back into the game. What impressed me the most about the victory over the Wings was that the Thrashers forwards were consistently getting the step on the Wings defenders and creating 2 on 1 rushes. The Thrashers ability to get out wide on Detroit's defenders was obviously the result of a team strategy because more than one line was taking this approach. The coaching staff saw something they thought they could exploit on video and the team bought into the strategy and then they executed it. The Thrashers probably have the best coaching staff in the history of the franchise--and it shows in many little details. The Thrashers players are making little clever plays in each game. Those small improvements will not always produce a victory but over the long run they could add a couple of wins to the team's total. Remember how competitive the Eastern Conference playoff race usually is--stealing a few extra points here and there over 82 games could prove to be enormous. Credit also should go to GM Rick Dudley. Not only did he bring in this coaching staff, but he brought in many of the players who fill out the roster. Some of these guys are simply smarter hockey players than the guys they replaced. The players have embraced the team concept, they are listening to the coaching staff. The scoring by committee has been enough to keep the team in the hunt. Also the Thrashers PP unit has not allowed a shorthanded goal against--something the PP defense should get credit for. The on-ice direction of the team is very good right now. Certainly the players will make some boneheaded plays as we go along, but the ratio of stupid decisions to smart decisions has shifted in the correct direction--and I'm very thankful for that.

11/27/2010 Thrashers Blank Habs 3-0, That's Four & Counting

Yes, Thrashers fans, that's four wins in a row. Not just wins, but clear-cut, make-a-statement, we-can-hang-with-anybody kind of wins. I almost don't want to jinx it by talking about it. But I will. Hit the jump for more. Some particulars of note: - Atlanta put 47 shots on net to Montreal's 25. In the second, the Thrashers fired 23 shots to the Habs' 4. - I think the Thrashers may have found a goalie. Ondrej Pavelec has allowed just 4 goals in his last 5 starts, with a save percentage of .974 over that span. - Atlanta has now beaten three of the league's top five teams. They also have a plus-2 Goal Differential, which is a pretty good predictor of post-season eligibility.

12/05/2010 Five Game Report Card: Games Twenty-One through Twenty-Five

This Five Game Report Card covers the games beginning with the overtime win against the New York Islanders and ending with the overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche. The Thrashers won all five games in this series thanks to, in large part, the heroics of Dustin Byfuglien. Big Buff netted a team-leading 4 goals and team-leading 6 assists to go along with a team-leading +5 and team-leading 30 shots. Yeah, he was pretty awesome. Let's not forget the incredible play of Ondrej Pavelec. OP shut out the Montreal Canadians and gave up just one goal to the Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, and Boston Bruins. During this series, the Thrashers finally started looking like the team that was promised: a hard-working team that gets scoring from all players. Perhaps most promising? Not a single Thrasher was a minus-player over this series. Over This Five Game Period · Record: 5-0-0 (1.000 P%) · Goals Scored/Allowed: 17/4 (4.250) · PP%/PK%: 23.8%/89.5% · Goal Leaders: Byfuglien (4), Peverley (3), Stewart (2) · Assist Leaders: Byfuglien (6), Ladd, Enstrom (5) · Point Leaders: Byfuglien (10), Enstrom, Ladd (6) · +/- Leaders/Trailers: Byfuglien (+5), Oduya, Enstrom (+4), Hainsey, Burmistrov (+1 as trailers) · Team +/-: Plus-44

12/18/2010 Postgame: Thrashers/Devils - Wow. Just, wow.

Attention Thrashers' fans: I know your surroundings must be unfamiliar to you. Some of you have never been here before, thus leaving you confused and possibly frightened. Others of you have been here before, but it's been so long that you've forgotten. For your convenience, I have drawn up a map to help you better orientate yourselves:

Proceed with caution though, as the landscape may shift at any time. If you need me, I'll be over there. Being giddy.


As you can see, and as I'm sure you already know, sports teams go through wild and unpredictable swings all the time. 6 months after Atlanta Thrasher fans were wild and giddy with anticipation; their team was pulled right out from under their noses. There are many possible lessons here, but I will leave it up to your to draw your own conclusions.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bruins are Champs

Congrats to the Bruins, their fans, Mark Recchi, Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, and the United States of America.

Shame on Vancouver, the ugly ugly riots, Roberto Luongo, The Sedins, Canada, and those who would trade in their Patriotism for a small wager in Sin City (just kidding buddy).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bruins force Game 7

On Wednesday night at the Rogers Center in Vancouver, Game 7 will be contested after Boston picked up a 5-2 victory over the Canucks in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals to tie the best-of-seven series at 3.
Both teams have won every home game, but the guys from the Great White North will be mighty nervous heading into the final game, as will their fans. A Canadian team hasn't won the Stanley Cup since Montreal hoisted the chalice in 1993.
The Bruins dominated the game from the start, taking a 4-0 lead within the first 10 minutes of the first period. Roberto Luongo was pulled and the Canucks had no answer for Boston's emotion.
I was mighty surprised that the Bruins were able to come out strong again in their own building.
Boston has been the better team in this series, and I really didn't think Vancouver would have won the 1-0 games. I thought the Bruins were more suited to win the close ones, while the Canucks had the edge in high-scoring affairs.
Tim Thomas is starting to look like Patrick Roy. Even if Vancouver wins, I would say Thomas deserves some votes for MVP.
It should be an exciting game Wednesday. If you're a Canucks fan, drink a few Molsons tonight, and get ready for the big one. You're team will need you.
If Vancouver can keep it scoreless in the first 30 minutes, or take an early lead, it will be fine, but if Boston takes an early lead, the Canucks could be in trouble.
I may have a few beers myself.

Bruins hold 4-0 lead after two

Boston holds a 4-0 lead after two periods of play. That's all to report.

Boston comes out swinging

After 20 minutes of play in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals, Boston holds a 4-0 lead over Vancouver.
The Canucks have pulled star goalie Roberto Luongo, who has struggled in Boston. Maybe he had too many Sam Adams last night.
It's hard for me to imagine the Bruins crumbling. It looks like we'll have a Game 7. They are always fun, but very nerve racking for the fans.
I'll update after the second, third and so on until the game ends.

Raising the Cup

The greatest trophy in sports will be in the building in Boston tonight. And the hometeam fans want nothing more than to NOT see it carried out onto the ice, because that means their Bruins will have forced a game 7 in Vancouver on Wednesday.
Even if the worst does come about however, I would implore those in attendance to stick around to watch the presentation of the Cup to the Canucks.

It is, without a doubt, my favorite moment in all of sports. It is what I missed most when the league was locked out. It is like News Years Eve for my hockey fandom each year when a group of worn down bearded guys hoist the Holy Chalice toward the heavens, skating on air in a state of overjoyed mass hysteria.

The Winter Classic has turned into a great event, the Winter Olympics gives me goose bumps, the trade deadline and July 1st free agency are tense days of cyber squatting as the league morphs and transforms itself upon a blank canvas. But the ultimate moment for me is still seeing a team win Lord Stanley's Cup. Its what this sport is all about, the Alpha and Omega of Ice Hockey.

Do or die for Bruins

The Stanley Cup finals return to the TD Garden tonight, and judging by the way the series has gone so far, Boston should beat Vancouver to force Game 7.
The home team has won all five games in this series, with the Canucks holding a 3-2 lead.
The Bruins destroyed Vancouver with 8-1 and 4-0 victories in Games 3 and 4 in the states, although the Canucks have eeked out two 1-0 and 1 3-2 victory in overtime, and have a chance to close it out if they can figure out how to win in Boston.
I'm going with Vancouver in a 2-1 triumph. The game will be tight checking and neither power play has been on fire. I predict a grinder will score the game-winning goal.
The Bruins' keys to victory will be to score on the PP when the opportunity arises. If Boston can't find the back of the net, it will be in trouble.
The Bruins were great at home, however they were playing with a great deal of fire following all the cheap shots by the Canucks. I believe some of that has worn off and the game won't be that chippy. Yes, it will be hard hitting, but I think the fighting has came and gone. Another advantage for Vancouver.
In terms of an MVP. I have no idea. I was going with Ryan Kesler before the series, but he hasn't done much. It is usually based on the whole playoffs, so Henrik Sedin could be a good choice. I'll go with him.
Roberto Luongo has been stellar in the games the Canucks have won, but he has been sub-par in more than one game in not just the finals, but the entire playoffs as well.
Tim Thomas has been the MVP in this series, however a loser hardly ever gets the nod, but it has happened. If Boston can win this thing, his is my definite pick.
Enjoy it folks.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Home-ice advantage key for Canucks in Game 5

I don't know if it's home-ice advantage or not, but Vancouver has won three games at the Rogers Center, including Friday night's 1-0 triumph over Boston in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals.
The Canucks hold a 3-2 series lead, and can win their first Cup in franchise history with a victory in Boston Monday night.
Both Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas played great in goal, although Vancouver scored its first goal since Game 3, and snapped Thomas' streak of 106 minutes and 7 seconds without allowing a goal, when Maxim Lapierre beat Thomas with a wrist shot at 4:35 of the third period.
Kevin Bieska took advantage of Thomas' aggresive style by directing a shot-pass from the right point that bounced off the boards and onto Lapierre's stick.
Thomas came out of his crease to challenge Bieska, and before he knew it, the puck was past him.
Raffi Torres picked up the other assist.
Luongo got his second shutout of these finals in stopping 31 shots, and said that Lapierre's shot would have been an easy save for him. Way to stoke the fire, Bobby Lu. Maybe he will get in a scrap with Thomas before this is all over.
Thomas stopped 24 of 25 shots, but his team will have to win another one at home to force Game 7. Thomas has been the MVP of these finals, in my opinion.
Yes, Luongo has two shutouts, the Bruins are down, but the Boston goalie has only allowed five goals. That's pretty impressive.
There were a great deal of hits in the game, and the Bruins had four power-play opportunities in the first and couldn't score. If Boston loses this series, it will look right to that stat.
Although the Canucks haven't been that strong on the PP, either. They were 0-for-4 with the man advantage. Also, were are the Sedin twins? I picked Ryan Kesler to be the MVP, but he hasn't done too much. Lapierre was defenitely the best skater on the ice last night.
Somtimes in the playoffs, it isn't the superstar that nets the big goal.
The Bruins will be ready to go at the TD Garden, but Vancouver wins another tight one, 2-1, to take home the Stanley Cup and end Canada's drought.
Thank God.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Why the NHL Needs to Keep its Edge

As the 2010-2011 NHL season winds down with what now promises to be one of the nastiest and chippiest Stanley Cup Finals in recent memory, some folks in the general sports media, and within the Hockey World itself, are loudly proclaiming that something needs to be done to clean up this game.

While I agree that headshots and concussions are a problem the league has to deal with, I hope they can manage to achieve this much needed goal without blunting some of the edge off the game.

As the great John Buccigross has written, "Hockey is a blood sport. It is played with a searing emotion most people can't empathize with unless they have played and lived the sport. Hockey is mostly difficult and frustrating. Which is why there is such an explosion of excitement whenever someone scores. Just about every goal is well-earned in some way. In this game, nothing comes cheap."

When Bucci refers to the game of Hockey here as a "blood sport," he is certainly not taking the perspective of some neanderthal wishing to see gladiatorial style combat upon the ice. He is putting into words the raw emotion and fury that inherently part of a hard hitting, high speed game played by rugged men.

It is not about the blood spilling out onto the ice after Steven Stamkos takes a puck to the face in Game 7 against the Bruins that draws us to the sport. It is him waving off the trainer, racing into the locker room, and returning less than five minutes later with a full cage guarding his now exploded nose and continuing on in the game without a second thought.

My instant response: a moment you can only have in the NHL playoffs.

At one time concussions were viewed in many circles the same way Stamkos’ broken nose was. Get some smelling salts, clear your head and get back out there for the next shift. The sport has learned the hard way that such a policy is reckless and dangerous for the safety and long term health of its participants.

It is right and proper that the NHL address hits to the head that lead directly to these concussions as a serious and dire matter. I implore the league however to be careful not to totally take away the mentality, the unquestioned willingness to sacrifice limbs in order to lift the Stanley Cup with heart and heart alone. Planting the seeds of doubt within the players would cheapen the game, cheapen the Stanley Cup, and lessen the impact of the sacrifice guys have spoken about for ages that it takes to win the Hardest Trophy in Sports.

My suggestion: target specifically blindside and direct hits to the head with harsher and automatic suspensions of 10 games for a 1st offense and escalate a scale from there. Fine the team that employees the offender on sliding scale as well. Leave the periphery stuff go. Players will adapt quickly to launching shoulders into chests rather than elbows into craniums. Scrappy, dirty stuff, like Alex Burrows biting Patrice Bergeron? Leave that kind of decision to the referees on the ice. Keep a hands off approach and let the player’s police themselves and send their own messages. Tell me that incident did not add an element of drama and edge to these Stanley Cup Finals. Having that edge is a good thing for the sport. Hockey is a game that needs to be played on the edge.

The fans who get into the game buy into this and understand such things. And they are your target audience NHL.

One of my favorite fan stories of this post season came from the “non-traditional” hockey market of Tampa Bay (there have been more Cups there than Toronto has had since ’67, just sayin).

Steven Paul, a Bolts season ticket holder was told by his Home Owner’s Associaton that his “GO BOLTS” sign in his yard was violation of the mandate within the neighborhood that no signage was allowed with the exception of security company signs. His response was the same as Stamkos flying back onto the ice for game 7. He pressed on in the face of clear and present danger with an edge to his game and a thin shield to guard himself from further ‘harm’:

"Protected By:



My instant response: a moment you can only have in the NHL playoffs.

2012 GOP Nomination Standings, Week 4

Click Here for Prior Weeks Standings:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

1) Mitt Romney Trending Even (Last Week: 1)- While the field continues to morph below him, Romney maintains his numbers at the top in the polls and in fundraising. He has solid name recognition, the question is: are there enough moderate GOP primary voters out there to counteract the “anyone but Romney” hardline conservatives that will be organizing in force against him.
Current Headline: Mitt Romney: No Apologies on Climate Change Stance

2) Sarah Palin Trending Down (Last Week: 2)- A well publicized gaffe on colonial history sums up both how dedicated Palin’s core supporters are, and exactly why she will never garnish enough mainstream credentials for the nation’s highest office. Watch out for the emails being released soon in Alaska, it may sink her 2012 hopes once, and for all, if something earth-shattering comes out of those documents.
Current Headline: Sarah Palin and the Wikipedia War Over Paul Revere

3) Herman Cain Trending Up (Last Week: 10)- The former Pizza Exec skyrocketed up the polls and the rankings this week. He has stolen the tea party mantle right out of the hands of Paul and Bachman. Talk radio loves him, and he certainly qualifies for outsider status in the political game. The downside is any unknown quirks or scandals that have yet to come to the surface.
Current Headline: Herman Cain: A Longshot’s Steady Rise

4) Tim Pawlenty Trending Up (Last Week: 8)- With other candidates dropping out and blowing up, Pawlenty’s previous weakness, his steady, boring approach to the campaign, has come around to lift his ranking and status up. He could map out a path to the nomination with a strong showing in Iowa.
Current Headline: Pawlenty Bets Big on Reaganomics, but Some Economists Say It Won't Work

5) Ron Paul Trending Even (Last Week: 5)- Paul is who he is. He has a lockdown on this #5 spot because of his poll numbers, but the most authentically libertarian of the candidates will not be able to expand his base without compromising his values, something he will all but certainly refuse to do.
Current Headline: Candidate Ron Paul thinks GOP, Nation Moving Closer to His Libertarian Views

6) Michele Bachman Trending Up (Last Week: 7)- Bachman is looking more and more like she will make a serious run in 2012 as she organizes campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire. She is now starting to go hard at the political figure who most mirrors her own style and following, trying to separate her image from that of Sarah Palin.
Current Headline: Palin, Bachmann Camps Feud Over Who Gets To Be Defined As A 'Serious' Candidate

7) Newt Gingrich Trending Down (Last Week: 4)- After a totally disastrous showing on Meet the Press where he bashed Paul Ryan’s budget plan as “Rightwing Social Engineering” and an ill-timed European Luxury Vacation, Gingrich’s staff has mutinied on him. The Gingrich campaign has blown up like a cartoon cigar, right in his face. He is down, is he on the verge of being out?
Current Headline: Will Gingrich’s Staff Exodus Kill His 2012 Chances?

8) Rick Perry Trending Up (Last Week: Unranked)- Rumblings are that Perry is serious about getting into this race. Gingrich going down in flames could be the best thing to ever happen for the Texas Governor. Perry is a proven and polished campaigner. It should be interesting to see if he gets his bid off the ground.
Current Headline: Perry Watch: Is Rick Perry Playing Games With the Date of the 2012 Texas Primary For His Own Gain?

9) Rick Santorum Trending Down (Last Week: 6)- Santorum has officially announced his bid, but continues to stay in the bottom half of the polls and the rankings. It seems like he doesn’t have a lot of room to gain any traction. The former Senator from a trending blue swing State Commonwealth may be able to, at best, position himself well on the VEEP list with a good showing in the debates.
Current Headline: Rick Santorum: The Hapless Holy Warrior Starts Another Crusade

10) John Huntsman Trending Up (Last Week: Unranked)- Zero name recognition, but there is plenty of time for Huntsman to close that gap. And with the field above him full of flawed candidates and gaffe potential, the former ambassador may be able to crawl through the early campaign minefield unscathed and become a player in this contest.
Current Headline: Huntsman Hones a Dovish Foreign Policy Pitch to Republicans

If you are interested in anything else in regards to these rankings, please leave a comment below or email me:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bruins tie series in 4-0 victory

Boston once again dominated Vancouver with a 4-0 victory in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday at TD Garden in Boston.
The best-of-seven series is tied at 2-2 with Game 5 coming Friday night at Rogers Center in Vancouver.
Oh, how the Canucks will be glad to get out of the good ole' USA.
I don't know if it was coincidence, but I think Aaron Rome's hit on Nathan Horton lit a fire in the Bruins.
Since the hit, Boston has outscored Vancouver, 12-1, and made Roberto Luongo look very average. The Bruins chased Luongo Wednesday night.
I don't know if Claude Julien is using different versions of the win one for the Gipper speech or what, but Boston is sure drinking the Kool-Aid.
I don't see much difference in the Bruins' game. They are playing strong defense, going hard to the net and relying on Tim Thomas to be solid.
Boston has carried the play this whole series, however I'm not going to flip flop. I'm sticking with the Canucks.
Vancouver gives the hometown fans something to cheer about with a 4-2 victory in Game 5.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

NHL suspends Canucks' Rome

Vanouver defenseman Aaron Rome was suspended by the NHL Tuesday for his hit on Boston forward Nathan Horton in the Bruins' 8-1 victory Monday night in the Stanley Cup finals.
Rome will be gone for the next four games, and if the finals are completed in less than seven, he will finish his sentence next season.
Rome's hit on Horton left the Bruins winger on the ice for several minutes before being loaded into an ambulance and taken to Massachusetts General Hospital. It was reported during the game that Horton had feeling in his arms and legs, but he will be out for the remainder of the playoffs with a severe concussion.
I applaud the league for stepping up, but when will these acts of "goonism" end? Rome's hit will the big topic concerning the finals on all major sports networks. The NHL is No. 4 in terms of popularity and acceptance in the United States, and some would argue further down that list, and it can't afford to let this happen.
My solution would be stiffer penalties. Three strikes and your out. First offense: Half the season. Second offense: The whole season. Third offense: Find somewhere else to play hockey.
Maybe that's extreme, but something needs to be done.
Rome is no where near as important to the Canucks as Horton is to Boston. I'm not saying he was sent out to do damage, but it's something to ponder.
Vancouver's Alex Burrows started all this in Game 1 with his imfamous bite on the Bruins' Patrice Bergeron and it has escalated from there.
The third period of Monday's game resembled a bar-room brawl on ice than a hockey game. The officials did an excellent job of sending guys off, but it's hard to control that and it just takes one more hard shot before someone is severly injured. And what's not to say that Horton will play again?
Ask Sidney Crosby how tricky concussions are?

Bruins rout Canucks, 8-1

Boston exploded for four goals each in the second and third periods to rout Vancouver, 8-1, Monday night in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals at TD Garden in Boston.
The Bruins trail the Canucks, 2-1, in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 scheduled for Wednesday night in Boston.
Tim Thomas stopped 40 shots, but was a bit overshadowed by the scraps and goals.
Following Aaron Rome's devastating hit on Nathan Horton, I will delve into that situation in another post, the Bruins took over with four goals in the second.
Boston's Andrew Ference opened the scoring 11 seconds into the second. Mark Recchi followed that up with a power-play goal at 4:22.
With Vancouver on a power play and a chance to get back in the game, Brad Marchand scored a short-handed goal to give Bruins a 3-0 lead at 11:30 of the second.
David Krejci capped of the second with a goal at 15:47 and Boston held a 4-0 lead at going into the third.
The third saw the Bruins add another short-handed goal before the Canucks' Jannik Hansen beat Thomas at 13:53 of the third and a 5-1 Boston lead.
The Bruins scored three more goals, however, and the game turned into a bar-room brawl on ice. Punches were thrown, Alex Burrows was taunted by Milan Lucic to take a bite out of him and scoring champ Daniel Sedin was sent to the showers early with a game misconduct. Ryan Kesler also had an early shower.
I'm sure I'm missing somebody, but there were about seven players left on the bench at game's end.
After playing stellar in the first two games, Vancouver looked vunerable. They committed stupid penalties, got beat to loose pucks and didn't show the determination it takes to win a Stanley Cup. I'm still going with the Canucks to win Games 4 and 5, but it won't be easy. Roberto Luongo was sub-par at best. He gave up some easy goals.
If Boston wins Game 4, who knows, but they were definitely the better team in Game 3. For what it's worth, the Bruins hold a 10-5 lead in aggregate scoring.
Vancouver and Luongo come back strong with a 2-1 victory in Game 4.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Canucks take 2-0 series lead

Ironically, it was Vancouver's Alex Burrows that scored the game-winning goal 11 seconds to overtime for a 3-2 victory over Boston in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals Saturday night at Rogers Center in Vancouver.
Vancouver holds a 2-0 series lead. Game 3 is Monday in Boston at 8 p.m. EST.
The Bruins held a 2-1 lead before the Canucks' Daniel Sedin tied it midway through the third.
I will give the edge to Boston in Game 3. I like the Bruins in a 4-3 victory.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Game 2 is pivitol for Boston

I won't say it's over if Boston loses Game 2, overcoming 0-2 deficits in the Stanley Cup playoffs aren't unheard of, however the Bruins need to beat Vancouver tonight if they want to win this series.
The Canucks are dangerous because they can win games in many different ways. For instance, they edged Boston, 1-0, in Game 1 after Raffi Torres scored with less than 20 seconds to go. Wednesday's game was the type of game the Bruins like to play and Vancouver still pulled it out.
The Canucks don't mind getting in a high scoring affair. They feature the better power play, even though they didn't score in Game 1 with the man advantage, and can play that finesse game. Boston can score, but it is more capable of scoring dirty goals.
Vancouver is not afraid to mix it up, either.
With all due respect to the Bruins, I don't think this will be a close finals. The Canucks are too good.
That said, if Tim Thomas can keep standing on his head, Boston might have a chance to make this series competitve.
Vancouver takes a 3-2 victory in Game 2 tonight.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

No punishment for Canucks' Burrows

Vancouver's Alex Burrows will not be disciplined by the NHL for allegedly biting the gloved hand of Boston's Patrice Bergeron Wednesday during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.
The two were in a scuffle at the end of the first period, when, according to Burrows, Bergeron put his fingers in his mouth.
Bergeron said he isn't worried about the decision, and Burrows claims he didn't bite him, even though Bergeron had two get his fingers looked at.
I said it in a previous post and I'll say it again. Burrows should be suspended for one game. Biting, sucker punches and below the belt shots are out of line.
The NHL once again shows its inconsistency in regards to disciplining its players.
If I'm Bergeron, the best way to get back at Burrows is score a goal in Game 2 and lead his team to victory.

Vancouver wins Game 1 on Torres' late goal

It took nearly 60 minutes, but Vancouver got the only goal it needed when Raffi Torres scored with 18.5 seconds remaining in the third period for a 1-0 victory Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals at Rogers Center in Vancouver.
Jannik Hansen took a pass from Ryan Kesler, who made Bruins goalie Tim Thomas challenge a would-be shot due to a 2-on-1 situation, and fired the puck to Torres for the easy one timer. Thomas had no chance on the play.
Kesler made an exceptional play to chip the puck past the Boston defense and stay onsides in the process.
Thomas was great, stopping 33 shots and was 18.5 seconds from posting 120 minutes of shutout goaltending, but Roberto Luongo was a tad better.
Luongo made 36 saves for his third shutout this postseason and was the game's No. 1 star. Thomas was No. 2 and Torres 3.
The game was a tight, defensive battle with some chippy moments. Vancouver's Alex Burrows appeared to bite the gloved finger of Boston's Patrice Bergeron during a scuffle after the first-period buzzer.
As of this writing, nothing has been addressed to whether Burrows will be punished. I believe a one-game suspension is warranted.
Failures on the power play were another story as neither team scored with the man advantage. Both teams were 0-for-6, and the Bruins failed to score on a lengthy 5-on-3 in the early stages of the second period.
This victory is very encouraging for the Canucks. A low-scoring, tight checking game is more suited for the Bruins. They score many goals by putting the puck on net with traffic. I don't think Boston needs to change anything for Game 2, however it has to score on the power play and keep Vancouver from scoring with the man advantage. They accomplished one part of that in Game 1.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, I don't see the Canucks' PP being held down again in this series.
Game 2 is Saturday and I give the edge to Vancouver, 3-2.

Stanley Cup Finals: Game One

The NHL yesterday announced that Colin Campbell will be stepping down as the head of supplemental discipline. He will be replaced in that role to begin next season by former player Brenden Shanahan, but it is expected that some sort of committee, with Shanahan at its head, will be established to review incidents that take place during games and try to establish some consistency and order to what has been a murky and seemingly random process of fines and suspensions.

The 1st game of the Stanley Cup finals gave us another example of an event that will fall under Shanahan's jurisdiction next season, as the Vancouver Canucks Alex Burrows took a bite out of the Boston Bruins Patrice Bergeron at the end of a hard hitting 1st period. The decision if Burrows will face a suspension for this act will actually fall upon the desk of Mike Murphy. Campbell has recused himself from all incidents in the Finals as his son, Gregory, plays for the Bruins. I hope no emails leak out with Campbell trying to influence his underling.

Outside of the dental related controversies, Game One was a solid defensive struggle between two teams both trying to establish physical dominance while maintaining solid defensive systems. The game remained tied at 0-0 until Raffi Torres finally got the 1st and only goal of the game with 18 seconds left to play in the final period, cancelling out what seemed to be an inevitable overtime duel. It was the latest game winner in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1992, when Mario Lemieux scored with 13 seconds left in the 3rd to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 1-0 series lead against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Both goalies played fabulously, Roberto Luongo will get the shutout for the record books, but I would say that Tim Thomas actually played better and had to make some tougher saves through the course of the game. This is the 3rd time this postseason Luongo and his Canucks have launched a series with a game one shutout.

“I thought we were going to play all night the way it was going,” Luongo said. “It was an exciting way to start the series. It was such a close game. It could have gone either way, a flip of the coin.”

When Torres scored it was the first goal Tim Thomas had allowed in 128 minutes of play, having shutout the Tampa Lighting in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Thomas and the Bruins got no help at all from their powerplay, going 0 for 5 with the man advantage, including a futile extended 5 on 3 in the 2nd period.

Last night was the kind of game Boston needs to win to have a chance in this series. Dropping a close game out of the gates like that hurts, and the game one winner has gone on to win the series 77% of the time in the Stanley Cup Finals. If Boston can steal one on the road Saturday night they will have a good chance going home. It will be a long cross-continent flight down in a 2-0 hole if they don't.