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Rivalries, Passion, Parody All Define East Playoffs

April 9, 2009 by Big Tony · Leave a Comment 

prince of whales trophy 300x211 Rivalries, Passion, Parody All Define East Playoffs

Ladies and Gentlemen the teams who will participate in the Eastern Conference Playoffs have been decided. Boston, Washington, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Carolina, Pittsburgh, NY Rangers, and Montreal are in and unfortunately for some the Florida Panthers are out. The exciting thing about this year’s playoff picture in the east is that every team who made it is in a city with incredibly dedicated fans. Some places are better than others of course but all are extremely supportive and very passionate. Carolina may be the best southern based team to make the playoffs because of their fans. Hurricane fans may not be large in numbers but the ones who follow the team make for an incredible atmosphere for Carolina home games; many believe their arena gets as loud as any in the league. New Jersey probably has the worst fan support of all the teams but at the same time they provide some of the most talented players in the league (Brodeur, Parise, etc.) which can make for some very entertaining hockey. Above all else it’s the passion that makes the playoffs so exciting and nothing gets a fire going like a good rivalry and the possible match-ups have set up some very good rivalries in the first round and beyond. There are the team rivalries: Boston/Montreal, NYR/NJ, Washington/Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh/Philadelphia, and the intra-divisional rivalry between Washington and Carolina which became very heated toward the end of last season. Then there are the great individual rivalries including Crosby/Ovechkin, Malkin/Ovechkin, and the always entertaining Avery/Brodeur confrontation. No matter how you look at it, the Eastern Conference playoffs should be some of the most exciting we’ve seen in a long time. The teams are separated by very little talent wise (despite any point differentials) and any team as the ability to beat any of the others and represent the east in the Stanley Cup Finals. So sit back, relax, and get your popcorn ready ladies and gentlemen because we’re in for one great Spring of hockey.

NHL Stretch-Run a Wild Ride

March 17, 2009 by Big Tony · Leave a Comment 

roller coaster 225x300 NHL Stretch Run a Wild Ride
It’s time again to sweep around the league to talk about a few of the stories developing as the playoffs inch closer and closer:

1. Number one Story of the night is the Marty Brodeur has surpassed Patrick Roy in wins to take the all-time lead at 552. There is not much more to be said about Brodeur at this point after the article dedicated to his tying of the record. If you missed it you can click here or on his name above.

2. The Pittsburgh Penguins are in the midst of an eleven game point streak which catapulted them from 10th into a tie with Philadelphia in fourth position in the Eastern Conference. The acquisition of Kunitz and Guerin has been golden so far as both have contributed majorly on the scoreboard as they play the respective wings next to Crosby on the top line. Roughly 20 games ago many people suspected the Penguins were very likely to miss the playoffs or do little damage even if they managed to scrape by to get in. But now not only are the Bylsma led Penguins in decent playoff position by some of those same people feel they can not only make it to the playoffs but make yet another run at the Stanley Cup. Oh and don’t forget about that Malkin guy who scored his 100th point Tuesday night, they tell me that’s kind of a big deal or something.

3. The Montreal Canadiens have been in a virtual free-fall for weeks now. Carey Price has been struggling mightily, Alexi Kovalev has been subpar all season long and Guy Carbonneau has been fired and replaced by GM Bob Gainey who does not have them in much better position. It was supposed to be a celebration in Montreal this year with it being the 100th anniversary of the franchise with allegedly their best team in a long time. Now the Habs are in 7th position and barely hanging on with Carolina, Florida, and Buffalo hot on their trail.

4. In the West the LA Kings all the way down in 13th place still have a legitimate shot at qualifying for the playoffs. Only six points separate eighth from 13th as the teams play “musical chairs” with playoff positioning almost nightly. Also, the Columbus Blue Jackets have surged as of late and really separated themselves from the lower pack in the West led by rookie sensation Steve Mason. Meanwhile the Chicago Blackhawks—who were once considered to be a shoe-in—have been struggling as of late and risk surrendering the 4th spot and the first-round home-ice advantage that comes with it

All-in-all there have been a lot of surprises over the last two months and the league continues to entertain. Things you thought you knew just a short time ago have completely changed and that’s the beauty of the sport. As fun as the last two months have been they are sure to be topped in the next few weeks. So hang on to your seats hockey fans because as great as it has been thus far you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Therrien/Renney Out, Bylsma/Tortorella In. But Will it Matter?

February 23, 2009 by Big Tony · Leave a Comment 

There was only one game Monday night but that didn’t mean the NHL would be lacking in drama after an action packed weekend both on and off the ice.

dan bylsma 200x300 Therrien/Renney Out, Bylsma/Tortorella In. But Will it Matter?

On the coaching end Pittsburgh’s new head man Dan Bylsma picked up his first two victories as an NHL coach in two 5-4 victories over Montreal and Philadelphia respectively. The Penguins lost to Washington on Sunday but five points out of a possible eight in Bylsma’s first four games is a good start for the new headcoach who is hoping to guide the Penguins back into a playoff spot after a disappointing start to the new year for Pittsburgh.

tom renney1 189x300 Therrien/Renney Out, Bylsma/Tortorella In. But Will it Matter?

Staying in the Atlantic Division takes us to New York where the Rangers fired Tom Renney this weekend only to name John Tortorella as his replacement on Monday. Many close to the team believe Tortorella can provide a spark for the Rangers they could not seem to get from Renney. Tortorella has a history of calling out players publically which may inject the Rangers with just the right amount of energy to help save this sinking ship by not only keeping it afloat but guiding them to the playoffs. There is no denying that Renney is a great coach who will ultimately get another job and most likely be successful in that new position. However, Tortorella sweetens the pot by adding his Stanley Cup ring and that demands the utmost respect; something Renney simply couldn’t add to the mix.

In the future there will undoubtedly be many coaching changes across the sports landscape—especially in the NHL. In reality, mid-year coaching changes tend to do very little to change the course of a team especially when they are made toward the end of a season. The players normally don’t change—save for a few here and there—while a season is ongoing and so the chances of a different outcome no matter the coach is slim to none. And this year will probably be no different as both the Penguins and Rangers will probably continue on the paths they were on before coaching changes were made because personnel remains basically the same. If there’s one thing the sports world can learn from the Pittsburgh Steelers is that consistency in coaching and upper management yields sustained, long-term success.

Blue Jackets Success Good for Hockey in the USA?

February 19, 2009 by Big Tony · 2 Comments 

blue jackets logo 300x283 Blue Jackets Success Good for Hockey in the USA?
The Columbus Blue Jackets have registered a point in eight straight games and have won seven of those contests including a four game winning streak. This recent streak, backed by the stellar play of netminder Steve Mason, puts the Blue Jackets in prime position to make the playoffs for the first time in the team’s brief history. Helping Mason lead the Jackets success this season is mister Blue Jacket himself Rick Nash who has been a very bright spot on a team which has had very limited success—that is, until now. Offseason acquisitions Kristian Huselius (Calgary) and R.J Umberger (Philadelphia) have helped make the Jackets a viable contender this year and possibly for years to come. With a core group of relatively young players Columbus will be making plenty of noise on the ice for many years to come.

The success of the Blue Jackets thus far this year is only half the story because what we’re seeing is a potential hockey hotbed in its infancy. Until this year the only hockey presence in Ohio that has had any sustainable success has been via the Ohio State University. Although success at the University level is great the potential for Ohio to blossom in terms of hockey almost certainly requires the success of a major professional team. The significance of the Jackets being in Columbus is that they are the highest level of professional sport in the city which means there is no competition for fan fair from the popularity giant that is the NFL. Success for the Blue Jackets can make them the darlings of the city and would be the first of its kind in the U.S. since other cities tend to have other pro teams in one of the other three major sports. With that in mind, the on ice play of Rick Nash and company is not significant only to the potential of the Blue Jackets and the city of Columbus, but it could also be a major victory for the popularity of the sport of hockey in the U.S. So American hockey fans, if your team happens to fall out of contention throw a cheer the way of the Blue Jackets, their success might help you out more than you realize.

NHL Eastern Conference Stretch-Run Mayhem

February 3, 2009 by Big Tony · Leave a Comment 

eastern conference jersey 300x300 NHL Eastern Conference Stretch Run Mayhem

Unlike the West, the Eastern Conference is a much tighter race top to bottom with the exception of the Boston Bruins who have all but officially secured the top spot as they are 12 points ahead of their closets challenger. But looking beyond Boston a very colorful picture is painted as Washington and New Jersey battle for the second spot separated by only one point and the difference between 4th and 10th spot is only 9 points (essentially 3 games). That’s right ladies and gentlemen the difference between home ice advantage in the first round and being out of the playoffs altogether is merely 3 games. So you may be asking yourself how all this will end up, who’s in and who’s out? Well look no further folks, we’ve got it broken down for you right here.


Washington – The Alexes (Ovechkin and Semin) provide the Caps with enough scoring to hang with anybody from either conference and at any level of the playoffs. Supplement that with great defensive play by guys like Mike Green, outstanding goaltending by Jose Theodore and the toughness of the likes of Donald Brashear needed to wear teams down in the playoffs, you’ve got a team that can go a LONG way.

New Jersey – No Brodeur? No problem. Scott Clemmensen has been great, Parise, and Elias combine skill with leadership, and of course New Jersey always plays amazing defense. Add in Brendan Shanahan as the proverbial cherry on top and you’ve got yourself an irresistible sundae—i.e. a team that can rely on its core not only to get to the playoffs, but deep into the second season.

Montreal – Sure they lost Robert Lang for the season (a major blow indeed since he led the team in goals scored overall and power play goals) but now Kovalev and Price and company need to step up their play. They were picked by many (yours truly included) to represent the East in the finals and you better believe they’ll be there.

NY Rangers – Everything they expected to get from Wade Redden but haven’t has been more than adequately made up for by the play of Henrik Lundqvist. However, his play can only get them to the playoffs so do not expect them to get very far. A lot of their games have been won in shootouts and in case you didn’t get that memo there aren’t any shootouts in the post-season. Scott Gomez is great too but they miss Jagr and Shanahan so enjoy the Rangers while they last because it won’t be long for them in the playoffs.

Philadelphia – They are huge and can score. Big teams who can score make it to the playoffs, and as long as Biron stays solid they will be in excellent shape.

Florida –  Netminder Craig Anderson has been fantastic and somehow this team has learned how to score on a more consistent basis. They have a lot of guys who are overachieving and it doesn’t look like that will stop anytime soon; however, as Anderson goes so go the Florida Panthers. In my estimation a 2.47 GAA and .930 save percentage are no accident, the Panthers are for real.

Pittsburgh – They have not played well as of late and have a lot of injuries to boot. Despite all that the Penguins have an incredible amount of talent and are becoming a grittier team as they realize they cannot win on talent alone. Losing Malone, Laraque and Hossa (among others) has hurt them more than most realize but regardless the team refuses to quit and their new 1-2-2 trap will help them win enough games to make reservations for post-season play.


Carolina – Cam Ward has been too inconsistent and the Hurricanes don’t score enough goals to bail him out every night.

Buffalo – They run Ryan Miller into the ground and he will start to wear down before the playoffs arrive. Thomas Vanek and company can certainly put the puck in the net and that will help their push toward the playoffs but they will fall short by “that much.”

Rutuu Bites, Wild Patient, Caps Finish

January 7, 2009 by Big Tony · 2 Comments 

polar bear hockey 300x213 Rutuu Bites, Wild Patient, Caps Finish

Tuesday night Jarkko Ruutu of the Ottawa Senators apparently bit Sabres’ defensemen Andrew Peters in the thumb. It is awful that Ruutu did that and hopefully he is severely punished, but it is the hope of hockey fans everywhere that the casual fan will not once again only see hockey in this light (since ESPN eats stuff like this up) and think that’s all that goes on in hockey. If all they did in NFL coverage was show guys getting poked in the eye or really bad facemask penalties and quarterbacks getting knocked out or guys getting paralyzed it would give football a bad name for sure but we all know that stuff does not happen frequently and the NHL should be given the same consideration. So please, if you have casual fans as friends and think this is how it is all the time please just get them to follow a number of games and they will quickly see it is not an every game occurrence.

Now to the better side of hockey and that would be two great match-ups Tuesday night between the Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild, and the game of the night between Washington and Philadelphia. Boston was defeated 1-0 by Minnesota making it two in a row for Boston cooling off the then hottest team in the league. What is to be learned from that game is Minnesota is simply better at running the dreaded neutral zone trap than the Bruins head-to-head. Boston has been able to open up the ice to score more goals now but if other teams are paying attention Minnesota taught them a great lesson. If you slow the game down and play most of it at center ice Boston will get so frustrated because they are so hungry to score that they end up skating in circles and don’t get anything going. Patience is the best way to beat Boston not trying to outscore them.

As for Washington and Philly, all that needs to be said about that at the moment is that if you’re looking for the anti-Ruutu game, this was the one to watch. That game was everything that makes hockey such a great game to watch.

Winter Classic Excitement

December 29, 2008 by Big Tony · Leave a Comment 

winter classic 300x237 Winter Classic Excitement

The NHL’s second Winter Classic is only two days away and the sports world should be in for a real treat. The Chicago Blackhawks have won 9 straight games and have recorded a point in each of their last ten. Not only is winning nine straight impressive but the Hawks have been putting away some very good teams including at home against Philadelphia and four road games against Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Minnesota. Chicago is getting great play from not just their big stars (Kane, Sharp, Toews, Campbell) but also from guys like defensemen Duncan Keith who has 18 points and is a plus 19 for the season. They are a solid team and are finally coming together to create what could be something very special not only in the years to come but this season in particular.

On January 1st the Blackhawks welcome the Detroit Red Wings to Wrigley Field and rumor has it that the Red Wings are pretty good… Clearly the Red Wings are very good for not only are they the defending Stanley Cup champions but they are second in the West with 50 points trailing only the amazing San Jose Sharks who the Wings recently pummeled 6-0. Complimenting the Wings would take all day so I’ll just let mentioning names like Lindstrom, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Hossa, and Frazen (among many others) do all the explaining themselves. Not only will the atmosphere be great but the hockey won’t be half bad either. The fans are hyped and the players are excited as face-off approaches. In two days the eyes of the hockey universe will be focused on Chicago, live at 1pm eastern time on NBC in the US and CBC and RDS in Canada. The wait… is almost over.

Flyers Soaring in Philly

December 20, 2008 by Big Tony · Leave a Comment 

flyers 223x300 Flyers Soaring in PhillyEverything this is clicking right now in Philadelphia as the Flyers have won 7 of 9 including a 7-1 waxing of the formerly white hot Washington Capitals Saturday afternoon. A great part of their success has been impeccable special teams play; over the last nine games the Flyers are 16 of 40 on the power play (an unbelievable 40%) and have killed 34 of their opponents’ last 44 power play chance (an equally impressive 77.3%). They Flyers are also showing they can win tough one-goal-games battling to the last minute as well as being able to protect a leads by turning games into blow-outs. Goaltending has been a bit inconsistent so if you’re looking for a chink in this team’s armor that is where to look. Overall this is a complete team that looks like they can make a lot of noise come playoff time. Philadelphia has great size at all five positions on the ice which is important come playoff time to not only wear down the other team but to be able to stand tough against a team trying to return the favor. Clearly this team can score as they have nine players in double-digits in points and six with double-digit goal totals. Special teams numbers mean more now in the playoffs with the rule changes than ever before so in yet another category advantage Flyers. What can put Philly over the top is not only last year’s playoff experience but this time they have Simon Gagne healthy and will in all likely hood have Kimmo Timonen for the duration of their playoff quest. Barring a disaster it may be about time the powers that be learn there are two “L”s at the end of Hartnell and that Timonen is spelled with only one “M” if you get my drift.

Marvin Harrison: Still plays while suspected for murder?

November 16, 2008 by MarkM · 2 Comments 

Marvin Harrison WR Colts

Marvin Harrison WR Colts

Honestly, with all the fines that have been going around the league because of retard Roger Goodell, you would think they would have something to say about Marvin Harrison! “Oh wait, Haven’t you heard? I was under the impression that everyone heard yeah ! yeah the bird bird bird bird is the word!”

No seriously, though Marvin Harrison probably shot someone!

Marvin is really feeling the pressure now!

Marvin is really feeling the pressure now!

Yet let that sink in, NFL hero Marvin Harrison is under review for attempted murder!

Now, how do you feel ?

It sucks I know. but what do you expect he is from Philadelphia…

I am very upset that they(NFL league office) let Marvin Harrison still play even though he is pretty much under review of attempted Murder. The story goes that Marvin was visiting his home town of Philadelphia. Marvin frequents and owns a bar called “Playmakers”. Pretty stupid name,  I know. Nevertheless during his night at the bar, he got into a altercation with a man. After around 5:20 PM, witness’s said that the man left the bar, and then Witness’s then saw Marvin leave the bar following the man, then soon after this, gunshots ensued. The man who Marvin had the disagreement was shot in the hand and his son had some serious injuries due to the broken glass in his eyes. They were together in their car, when the bullets hit them. The bullets casings recovered from the incident matched in a ballistics test to a gun that Marvin owns! The ballistic tests showed that the gun that had fired the shots was a custom made Belgian weapon, and police already have determined that Harrison owned such a gun. This is a custom gun, Marvin this just isn’t good.

The Police Reported to the press immediately, in hopes of defusing the situation

Early Media Reactions

In a shocking turn, it is sad to see that one of the stand up players in the NFL actually has turned out to be a complete moron.Regardless if he is the shooter, he gun was nevertheless used in this shooting. So what if he didn’t shot him, then he is negligent with his firearms and that makes me not respect the All-pro just as well. I know that there are many reports that these charges are bogus, but lets be honest with ourselves, if he did do it would the NFL do everything in their power to cover it up? Yeah I think so. We have once again been let down by one of our NFL hero’s (Future HOF) and the NFL has said nothing about this. They instead have just swept it under the carpet, due to Marvin’s reputation, and trust me they fear this would hurt the league, and it probably would, but no more than the recent phantom roughing the passer calls. All I am saying is nobody is perfect, and Marvin is an AS*HOLE!! I loved you Marvin how could you do this 2 me!!! I think you did it, and that makes me upset!

The Cops have all the evidence they need to charge Marvin. They have ballistics weapon test and victim cooperation, so there has definitely been something fishy going on. Can you say NFL cover up?

Just look at this list of evidence.

1.Ballistics tests have proved that the shell casings found at the shooting had been fired from Harrison’s gun, which is a Belgian-made FN5.7.

This is the FN-57, which is the type of gun that was used in the shooting.

This is the FN-57, which is the type of gun that was used in the shooting.

2. They have found the weapon at one of Marvin Harrison nearby business’s “Chucky’s Garage” on Thompson street. Which was close to the incident, even though Marvin had supposedly had reported to the police that the gun was at his home and had never left his home residence.

3. He and Dixon have had a long traceable history, and this incident was definitely building up.

This makes me sick! Marvin regardless even he didn’t fire, Marvin must have allowed some one else to fire upon Dixon with his pistol. The police have a match. What else do they need? Oh right, the Ok from the NFL lawyers ! If Harrison’s name was spelled “P.A.C.M.A.N” he would already be receiving the death penalty.

Penguins Making up for lack of Defense with two Straight Eleventh Hour Victories

November 14, 2008 by AlexV · 1 Comment 

The Pittsburgh Penguins are certainly on an emotional high with their two late comeback wins this week.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are certainly on an emotional high with their two late comeback wins this week.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been a fun team to watch through their past two games. In the two contests, the Penguins have put up seven and five goals respectively and both games have been hotly contested and right down to the wire against two rivals.


On Tuesday night, November 11th it was Pittsburgh skating at the home of the team that knocked them out in last year’s Stanley Cup Finals… the Detroit Red Wings in which they overcame a 6-4 deficit with just under five minutes left in the third period. After forcing overtime with the help of center Jordan Staal’s hat trick, it was an assist by Staal to Ruslan Fedotenko that set up the game-winning goal in OT.


Then, on Thursday night on the 13th the Pens overcame yet another late deficit when they were down 4-3 in the waning minutes of the third period at home to divisional opponent, the Philadelphia Flyers. This game would not be settled in overtime however, as the two teams battled it out in a five shot per team shootout, with the lone goal being scored by a defenseman in Alex Goligoski on Pittsburgh’s final attempt.


Now with these two momentum charged high-scoring wins, the Penguins have some self-belief that they can weather the storm before their arguably two top defenseman return to the lineup; Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney.


However, no team can expect to keep winning games like this so they’ll have to definitely step up their game plan on the defensive side and start taking charge in the earlier parts of games by getting their goals sooner. But with that being said, these are still two solid wins for a still young team to build off of that has suffered many losses through free agency and injury in this past off season.

Redskins Acquire Bro Bowl Cornerback DeAngelo Hall

November 8, 2008 by AlexV · Leave a Comment 

It's time for DeAngelo Hall to step up his game again. This time he has to do it in Washington.

In just four and a half seasons, DeAngelo Hall is already on his third NFL team.


The Washington Redskins agreed to a one year deal worth just over $800,000 with cornerback DeAngelo Hall on Friday November 7th, who had just been waived by the Oakland Raiders. It didn’t take too long for the Pro Bowler to find himself a new home. Although there has been a consensus that Hall has been underachieving this past half-season in Oakland, and the previous year in Atlanta, when looked at closely, it is easy to see why Hall can be a good fit for the Redskins.

First of all, Washington has been suffering from injuries in the secondary, and namely at cornerback; starter Shawn Springs, nickel back Fred Smoot, and backup Leigh Torrence. And although none of the three has been injured for extended periods of time, they have all been injured frequently and sporadically enough that the Redskins could not pass up this opportunity.

Aside from the injury bug in Washington, there is also the stable of wide receivers the Redskins have to face twice each year within their division. The New York Giants sport big game and big height, six foot five inch, Plaxico Burress. We all know about Dallas and Terrell Owens, but now with the pickup of big game, and six foot three, Roy Williams, the necessity for a player of Hall’s talents is ever more of the essence. Finally, the Eagles have a budding star in rookie DeSean Jackson, whose 34 receptions for 525 yards have him on pace to reach 1,050 total, and a quarterback in Donovan McNabb who has shown a propensity to do more with less over his career.

As long as DeAngelo Hall can resume the level play during his Pro Bowl garnering seasons, then the Redskins will have made a good choice. If not, they don’t lose much as they only signed him for the remainder of this season.