Saturday, October 24, 2015

Weighing in on the Columbus Blue Jackets Hiring of Tortorella

Yes, you see that right. John Tortorella is back in the NHL with a new team - the Columbus Blue Jackets. Often taken in critical remarks as a controversial hockey personality, "Torts" will certainly bring about some change in order to salvage the season. A miserable 0-7 start is already starting to erode the fan base that started to gather from the 12-0 finish last season and playoff appearance. This is what I think will most certainly be the key to turning the franchise around into something resembling an NHL franchise for the rest of the 75 games or-so remaining.

The Pros:
  1. He's worked with Brandon Dubinsky before in New York. Certainly, he's at least found someone to work with and buy into his coaching system. And with that, he can start to kindle more leadership with Dubinsky and by extension more confidence in the rest of the players.
  2. Saad, a newly acquired player, is used to the edgy coaching style as he'd seen in Chicago. His skills are comparable to some of the other greats that Torts has coached in the past. They need production from Saad to grow the team around his future potential.
  3. As stated before, Coach Torts is a highly controversial personality with a history of colorful remarks during press conferences. This circus act can serve as a smoke screen, if Torts and the BJ's are up to it, the more the press focuses on Torts in the spotlight, the less lack-of-victories coverage gets talked about in the media.
  4. Torts has an ability to build teams up and sometimes gets them to overachieve with gritty defensive style. He's taken two teams to the Cup finals and preparing a third. He works well with what he's given.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Game of the Week (Season 2) - Montreal Canadians vs Nashville Predators

With thanks to the fans who voted on the poll this week, the Montreal Canadians are featured as the team I'll use in this week's "Game of the Week" Season 2. Do I have what it takes to get it back on track after an embarrassing loss to the CPU team last week?
Of course, since it's October, I'm continuing to support the whole month long rally of Hockey Fights Cancer. Please give them support with money and wear pink this month.

Next week, as teased by my previous video, I will be playing the video game rematch of the Penguins vs Maple Leafs, with this time having it hosted at the ACC! Look for it next week!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Game of the Week (Season 2) - Toronto Maple Leafs vs Pittsburgh Penguins

This week's game is inspired by all the hype from this upcoming game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs. It's Phil Kessel's first game against his old Toronto friends. In this episode, I am trying to focus on telling you just how many memories I've gathered from attending Pens games vs Maple Leafs at both Pittsburgh Arenas.

I've also kept up on the October "Breast Cancer Awareness" and "Hockey Fights Cancer" theme. Please consider donating anything you can towards finding a cure or for more medical research.

I am currently 1-0 in this season vs. the CPU.

So, no matter what I've done here during this video game in the series. I'll probably do a rematch over Halloween between these two teams. Yea, I've used the Penguins more times than any other team in the game, but I've been trying to stay current.

Do you have an idea to feature two teams in the next "Game of the Week" series? Then go ahead and leave a comment in the box below or wherever appropriate.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Western Conference 2015-16 Overview

Seems like the Western Conference is always in the discussion as to who the Stanley Cup favorite resides. The CHI-ANA-LA combination seems to work well in the media. And with the recent shifting to So Cal as a "hockey hotbed", we may see another year of Western teams dominating the year. Will Chicago defend their Stanley Cup or will a new team rise up and usher in new superstar faces for a new generation?

Anaheim: With Horcoff the only significant acquisition, this team is just going to give it another shot at the Chicago dynasty machine for the best team in the league. Even

Arizona: A rebuilding franchise that needed to get tougher added John Scott and Steve Downie. They didn't add any scoring so look for them to value another lottery pick this year. Downgrade

Calgary: Frolik might be a great fit into a team that will challenge again for a playoff spot. This is what a team with a lot of grit and youngsters should be.Even

Chicago: A lot of players were shown the door in this off season. Sharp, Timonen (to retirement) Versteeg just to name a few. If Kane can't play it's all of a sudden looking very strange to see a lot of fresh faces on a team that's supposed to be defending their championship.Downgrade

Colorado: Blake Comeau thrived in Pittsburgh for cheap salary. Hopefully he can provide a goal scoring clutch that will supliment the young core players here. But they lost Ryan O'Riley.Downgrade

Dallas: A team that collected up a bunch of players from other winning systems should be a playoff contender for sure. Look for Sharp and Oduya to return winning ways back to the big D. HUGE Upgrade

Edmonton: They've got McDavid, but who's going to go? Eberle seemed to temporarily fix that with being on the IR. Their goaltending situation improved with Talbot trying for the starting job after his playoff heroics.Even

Los Angeles: They lost a few players to controversial news stories Richards and Voynov. They didn't replace them in the free agency market. Erhoff is aging and Lucic will add the grit. Enroth is a valuable back-up in case Quick needs a break. Upgrade

Minnesota: This is where the Dubnyk trade from last season will pay off if it is going to be a success. Is he the franchise goalie they need there? Downgrade

Nashville: I don't see anyone new here on this roster. Not even one possible replacement for Weber. They'll ride goaltender Rinne until his wheels fall off.Even

San Jose: Joel Ward brings his clutch playoff scoring touch to San Jose. But will they even make it to the post-season in time for him to use it? This may be the last hurrah of the Thorton-Pavelski-Marleau era. Even!

St. Louis: They adjusted their roster for more consistent role players. Brouwer is the key to rounding out the offense. Can Bortuzzo look like the blue-chip prospect he was in the Penguins system?Upgrade

Vancouver: They shipped out their young developing goalies and threw a bunch of money at unproven Brandon Sutter. Downgrade

Winnipeg: The Myers-Stafford trade that everyone was surprised by last year's trading deadline will get it's chance to shine all season long here. Look for them to continue building a playoff contending team.Upgrade

Eastern Conference 2015-16 Overview

I've decided to bring back this series in the begining of the year to encapsulate the Eastern teams and assess the progress (or lack thereof) during this off season. Will any of these teams finally dethrone the Chicago dynasty? The balance of power has shifted a little more back to the east with thanks to some of the Eastern conference teams building for the future. Youth movement seems to be the way to go with a lot of these franchises. Soon these teams collecting up high draft picks will mature and built around them.

Boston: They've traded away their core to again keep back from the cap and make room for the roster turnover. Lucic and Hamilton are gone with an aging Chara to work the blueline. Their coach is already on the hot seat even before the season begins. Downgrade
Buffalo: So many additions to this roster from new owners to coach, general manager, and to several franchise players. Eichel is definitely looking like an elite player in Buffalo. Look for him to make a splash with Ryan O'Riley. UPGRADE!
Carolina: What little they could do was attempt to shore up the blueline and make Eddie Lack challenge for Ward's starting position. Wisniewski and Versteeg are good veterans to help this new generation along. Even
Columbus: They dumped a lot of players along the way that held them back. They need to grow the game in Ohio and the only new player of note is Brandon Saad. Rebuilding continues. Even
Detroit: A team that holds on to their players longer than they should is again realizing that you shouldn't need to fix that isn't broken. New coach can show the players a fresh new perspective while Eric Cole is the old man in the "NHL's retirement center"Even
Florida: Youth movement. Marc Savard will bring his Boston luck to south beach. But the roster remains mostly the same.Even
Montreal: They've shifted a few players out and picked up some more role players in hopes to advance to the Stanley Cup finals. Semin is a streaky player often criticized for his non existent work ethic, but maybe this set of players will motivate his scoring. Upgrade
New Jersey: It's a new regime for the NJ Devils. Stempniak will keep the puck moving in a defense first system. But it's not enough to get any better than last year. downgrade.
NY Islanders: Their new home is the most interesting storyline of the year. New dashers and environmental sounds to get used to. It's another "don't fix it if it aint broke" team. Even
NY Rangers: Raanta will be the backup which brings a winning program over to the Rangers. Stoll is from the LA Kings who needed to get their centermen in order. Marty St. Louis retired and won't be replaced with his intangibles. They lost more than they replaced. downgrade
Ottawa: It's the same roster this year from last. Do we expect any better with a year of veteran seasoning? Even
Philadelphia: They are always looking for that one steady goaltender to count on in the clutch. Can Nieuvirth bring what he learned in DC? They also get Umberger back. He likes it there. Upgrade!
Pittsburgh: Having one of the elite wingers in hockey right now and giving up almost nothing for him was a real steal. Kessel will keep up with Crosby and Russian import Plotnikov will get Malkin's line. They've balanced out their team from being centerman heavy to a more balanced attack. Upgrade!
Tampa Bay: Will this be the year that Tampa wins it all again and follows history's trends? They've kept their team in tact for another deep run to the Stanley Cup finals provided everyone stays healthy. Even
Toronto: They are clearly in a rebuilding phase and going to stock their farm system until it's time to use them. Parenteau is going to be a decent replacement on the top line and the biggest acquisition is their coach Babcock. Hopefully, it will mean a better watchable product worth the price of admission while they stock up on talent. Downgrade
Washington: In the biggest steal of the NHL century, the Capitals have got themselves the "American hero" TJ Oshie and brought him to the nations' capital. He should work well as a secondary scoring threat when they need it most. I'm interested in how well Penner will do for them the whole season since coming over in the deadline. Upgrade!

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Game of the Week (Season 2) - Minnesota Wild vs New York Islanders

For the first official game this series using EA Sports' NHL 16, I feature the New York Islanders and Minnesota Wild. I chose them because the Islanders had recently traded Michael Grabner to the Maple Leafs. It was an interesting 5-for-1 deal bringing 5 prospects away from Toronto.
But this being October, I've updated my look with some pink. I'll be in my pink practice jersey for all the games played in October this season. And while we're on the subject, why not go over to the NHL's Hockey Fights Cancer website and pick some pink merch in the shop or just donate to a truly worthy cause.

Is there a team or league that you'd like me to feature during this "Game of the Week" Series? Leave a comment where appropriate.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

St. Michael's Day 2015

On Sept. 29th, I always talk about the University programs that honor the namesake. In the past, I've kept up on a couple of programs, but since the Majors have dissolved into the Steelheads, here's the continuation of the tradition. St. Michael's University Purple Knights of Colchester, Vermont.

The Men's team have new third jerseys, they're that mustard gold color that has been controversial with another NHL team. And they've taken the Purple Knight's logo off of the jersey and just had a purple stripe across the chest. The player number on the front is smaller and less visible - almost the direct opposite of the purpose. While it's not the worst jersey in the world, it's the one with the least amount of imagination.

First off, the Men's team has taken some serious strides within their conference. They're now accomplishing things in the NE-10 post season by reaching the championship game back in February. And to top it all off it was hosted in Cairns Arena! They unfortunately came up short again, falling to St. Anselm, but hopefully the program can take this as a success and build around it for this upcoming season. It could hopefully also take hold with any new recruits out of high school.

The Men's Purple Knights finished the year at 9-16-2. AJ Pieprzak was named Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year and also gained the respect of his hometown Barrie, ONT fans. Their goal production is 74g and 122a for 196pts.

As for the Women, they've been on a decline since the rest of the season. They lost to #1 Franklin Pierce in the ECAC Open Tournament, that they hosted! They were even routed on senior day to those rival St. Anselm girls. Their goal production is unfortunately inadequate with their last season totals 38g and 59a for 97 team points. 26 GP (5-20-1 .212). But when their opponents for the season score 188 team points for the season, it casts a harsh warning light as to where they need to improve for next season.

Some of the significant accomplishments this calendar year since the last Sept. post was how much the school can impress with their academic achievements. The Men's team have a press release on their website stating that they've accomplished a school record of 11 players earning all-academic EACA East honors, while 5 of them have gotten on that list multiple times.

The St. Michael's Men's team begins their 2015-16 season at University of New England on Nov. 16th while the Women's Lady Purple Knights start their season at home against SUNY Potsdam on October 30th.