Friday, August 12, 2016

Game of the Week - Team Great Britain vs Team France

I don't know if I should acknowledge the international competition going on right now this week in South America in a tie-in to this week's "Game of the week". The IOC is pretty strict on people siphoning off their brand. So, this is not such a thinly veiled attempt at aligning this week's game to reflect a certain International flavor.
I chose to go with Great Britain this time around believing that I could do well against their historical rival France. But what I didn't realize that team France includes a couple of guys who are with NHL major league caliber. Am I going to fight with honor -- FOR ENGLAND AND THE CROWN??? Tune in to find out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Game of the Week - HC Vítkovice Steel vs HC Kometa Brno

Well, since I was hoping to get this series some traction, I tried a little more diversity in the team selection. I noticed that I haven't used any of the teams in the Euro leagues, so here goes two of the random teams in the Czech Extraliga.

I chose HC Vítkovice Steel vs HC Kometa Brno as I was also looking forward to the upcoming Slovak Day in Kennywood. Will my choice in team succeed or fail? Did I handicap myself with another low ranked team against a good team that I'm unaware of? Or did the CPU just kick my ass again?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Amanda Kessel Drinks From Stanley Cup - And We're Okay With It.

Credit: The Score
It's an unwritten rule of honor (or "code") that only those NHL players who actually WIN the Stanley Cup may lift it over their heads or drink beverages from it. I was previously made aware of the "rule" when the Stanley Cup had made it's way through my local area in 2009. But Amanda Kessel's time with the Stanley Cup accompanied her brother Phil, also included a sip from the hallowed trophy even though she didn't play for the Penguins.

I'm curious as to find out just how scandalous this really is around the hockey community. She is a star player for the USA women's national team and a great player in her own right, but does she get to do what only elite players who earn the Cup do?

I think it's the simple reason that she's already a professional player in the NWHL's New York team that isn't designated to play for the Cup championship. Since it's not the same as a male NHL equivalent, Amanda here has been given the pass from criticism. But does this mean I'm allowed to do this because I, too, will never get to know what it's like to play for the Stanley Cup? Do heads-of-State get to lift the Cup over their heads in salute to the team's success?

I suppose it's of little matter regarding scandal when the Cup has been in Mario's pool twice.

Where do you stand on this issue? Does Amanda get a pass because she's allowed to celebrate with her brother? Or should she have stayed away from the Cup leaving only those who have earned the drink as a special privilege?

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Game of the Week - "Shark Week" 2016

It's that time of year where in the summer months, people relax on the beach, or stay at home and watch some hockey!

Shark Week is very popular in the American culture. Of course, I had to tie in a game with EA Sports' NHL 16 recently. Here is the results of that game! Instead of giving myself the obvious favorites to win, I handicapped myself with the intent to give a challenge.

The Cologne Sharks are in the German Elite League and the way the team is set up, it doesn't look promising. The starting goalie for the German Sharks has a 74 overall rating.

So, did I at least make a game out of it?

NOTE: I'll be changing the Game of the Week to Tuesdays this summer so that I can hopefully capture more people with it instead of a late Thursday night. Be sure to subscribe to my channel on twitch to get notifications when I go live streaming!

HockeyKnight1921 -

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hockey Fanatic Awards 2016

The Confessions of a Hockey Fanatic invented it's own Awards system on the hopes that it could be seen as an alternative to the NHL Awards since they always seem to get things wrong. The NHL Awards Show were on tonight with comedian Will Arnett as the host this time around. It was certainly yet another safe choice for the NHL productions as they tried to stay far away from negative social media critics and bloggers.

Note: Despite the NHL not regarding playoff performances in their awards, the COHF blog does.

Most Valuable Rookie: Connor McDavid

You have to give it to the kid even after he busts up his shoulder. He lost close to half the season and still finished in the top of the rookie class in scoring. Great for him and great for the future of the Edmonton Oilers franchise.

Most Valuable Player: Alex Ovechkin

While a certain winger for the BlackHawks was DQ'd for this honor, I instead chose the one guy who hauled his team through the regular season to earn them another President Trophy honor. 

Most Valuable Coach: Mike Sullivan

Who else but Coach Sullivan who came in at a critical time to the Penguins franchise and sold to them a new focus and plan to turn around a mess of a season.

Most Valuable Defenseman: Erik Karlsson

He's the captain of a Senators team that doesn't have much to work with in a situation that's got them on the bubble of being a playoff team or a lottery drafting team. Karlsson is your prototypical blueliner that out-scores the rest of the field.

Most Valuable Goalie: Martin Jones

To come out of backup obscurity to lead his team into the Cup finals should make everyone take notice of him now.

It almost went to Carey Price for the sheer notion that his team sunk faster than the Titanic once he was injured for the year. Just goes to show you how much he was missed and needed.

Most Valuable NHL Slovak player: Tomas Tatar

He was the leading "point-getter" and goal scorer in the NHL last season leading his team to yet another consecutive playoff appearance. His teammate Jurco was 8th out of 10.

Most Valuable Teammate Tandem/Trio :  Haglund, Bonino Kessel

Okay, I'm making an excuse to go with the extra player in the "tandem" category because much like my hockey area have been all caught up in the HBK line. It produced more fan interest and made fans out of the most unlikeliest of sources. Pittsburghers and media groups were quick to make a celebrity out of the Punjabi broadcaster with the "Bonino" goal calls. So, the cultural impact and the growth of the game is credited to these three people.

Most Valuable General Manager: Jim Rutherford

Even though the Pens were having a rough first part of the year, Mr. Rutherford was able to make a few more tweaks and hire a coach to turn things around in a really dramatic fashion. 

Most Valuable Ice Girls: Philadelphia Flyers

Not only are all Ice Girls valuable and provide an honorable service to both the fan base and the team as ambassadors of the sport, but the Flyers group really stand up proud.

Most Valuable Fanbase: St. Louis Blues

I think a team that had the cleverest gimmick all year was appealing to the Canadian fan base trying to get their support throughout the playoffs. Maybe it worked, there are no records or polls of how many fans they gained. But I think a fan base that was willing to work that hard to grow their numbers to cities further away from the "gateway to the west".

Friday, May 13, 2016

2016 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions - Round 3

I don't know if the Penguins are considered to be as a "shocking upset", but they did seem to upset a lot of Capitals fans and mainstream media personalities as well. It's amazing what the Penguins have been doing, because it's been without their top two stars. Crosby is 3g and 7a for 10p in 11 games played. Malkin is 3g and 6a for 9p in 10 games played. This is not going to get either of these players Conn Smythe considerations for playoff MVP. I don't think this is sustainable now that they've gone this deep into the tournament. We here are going to wait and see how the team adjusts to the next challenge.

As for the San Jose Sharks, It's Stanley Cup or bust with them. Their beards can't get any bigger than they are - or can they? Their elder statesmen have to ride off together because if they don't, then surely they are going to reconstruct the roster without them.

The excitement must be really huge in Southern California this year as well as the possibility of Blues fans seeing a Finals appearance in 49 years.

Let's break it down a little further below:

Western Conference

St. Louis v. San Jose
St. Louis now got it in their heads that they can be world beaters and fight off the best teams in the NHL. The Blues haven't been to the Stanley Cup finals, but they've gotten to the Conference finals back in the Gretzky days. I'd expect to see a real tired group of players with the Sharks and Blues to play a slow prodding Game 1. They've extended their playoff games to playing 14 games already. They're beat up. Both of them. I'd give the edge in goaltending with the Blues. Allen and Elliot are a great tandem, but just makes the old truism still relevant: "Having two starting goaltenders means you 'aint got one". Look for Thornton and Pavelski to cram a few goals out through their sheer force of beard will. I'm rooting for Jaden Schwartz to get to the finals considering all he has gone through.

Prediction: Blues in 5

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh v. Tampa Bay

I'd say that the Lightning team is only the second team that truly threatens to derail the Pittsburgh Penguins hot playoff run. Matt Murray has been playing above his pay grade for months now in Fleury's absence. They've created somewhat of a controversy, but Coach Richards has indicated that he's going to go with the "hot hand". But then, when will Fleury get a chance knowing full well he's their number one guy and having not been in a game for months is not good. He could be very rusty the next time they need him. Tampa's goalie doesn't have this problem. Bishop is 8-2 with a .938 GAA. Look for Drouin to extend his desire to be the "next one" in Tampa. He wants to be treated like a franchise player, so NOW is the time to show it. I don't think the 'Bolts have the kind of depth that the Penguins have in Defense. Victor Hedman is their true #1, but other than that, they've got average NHL talent there. The Penguins will move the puck out of the zone quicker with Maatta, Letang, and Daley.

Prediction: Penguins in 6

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Coaching Carousel Creates Caustic Canadians Cantankerous Cacophony

It didn't take very long for the Ottawa Senators and the Minnesota Wild to find replacements to their underachieving former coaching staffs. But there is a few glaring things that the mainstream media isn't quite talking about (or find enough reason to bring up) is that these two coaches hired within days of one another are retreads from other NHL teams. And then there are the Montreal Canadians who sources tell me have fans that are quite tired of Michel Therrien's second tour of duty there. They demand a French-Canadian coach and two of them have just been gobbled up by other teams. And as a side note, Marc Crawford, who is assumed to, wants to get another kick at the can and getting an assistant job with the Senators.

Bruce Boudreau has come from successful teams with the Capitals and Ducks, however, both of those teams have underachieved mightily. He had plenty of success building teams in the ECHL and American Hockey League before getting the call up to Washington D.C. His system brought a new resurgence to the Capitals utilizing Ovechkin in more ways than one by making him more of a two-way player. But his welcome was worn out by mid-season of 2011. The Ducks were also in a state of disarray looking for some way to generate offense easier than the Randy Carlyle coaching style. But again, the same pattern emerged as Bruce's playoff impotence arose once again. I think the Minnesota Wild will have a new direction with Bruce, but once they get into playoff contention, are the Wild going to go home early in the playoffs too? They already have that now with the coaches they had. This is where the bigger complaint of more rehashing of coaches comes from in guys that never seem to win at the major league level. Will the Wild just use Bruce to get them into better shape and then promote someone else to take over from there? We'll keep an eye out on how this new hire in the Twin Lakes transpires.

Guy Boucher on the other hand is another familiar face. Besides being a stand-in for a 007 villain, Boucher has been in a few teams before getting fired and winding up coaching in Switzerland. He's another guy similar to Boudreau in that he's been successful in the American Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior League. He developed players for the Canadians in Hamilton, expecting to be called up eventually. But the Canadians went another way retreading Therrien and Boucher took the Tampa Bay Lightning job. He didn't last long in Tampa only fighting through some lean years and eventually getting fired in his third year of a four year contract. Again, I don't understand how Boucher could do better than what Ottawa had given that his past track record in the NHL isn't a great resume.
Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said they interviewed "just under 10" candidates to be their new coach.
The CBC article doesn't list the rest of the names they spoke to, but I wonder how many new names that could've gotten a chance to coach at the NHL level.

The "Rooney Rule" in the NFL is supposed to bring about changes in their coaching world exposing new candidates instead of rehashing familiar faces. It could very well work out for both Boudreau and Boucher in their respective teams, but once they get to a certain point, is it going to be another trip to the chopping block?

[Via:FOX Sports and CBC News]