Well it’s getting on in the 2014 NHL playoffs, and it’s about time to dust of the old Double Championship Challenge for it’s second quadrennial go-round. If this seems Greek to you, click here to catch up on what the 1st Quadrennial Double Championship Challenge was all about. You may recall Rich Abney walked away with a championship t-shirt and four years of bragging rights in 2010 after picking the Chicago Blackhawks’ Canadian Olympic team members to win gold and the Stanley Cup in the same season.
So let’s have at it — cast your votes on who will win this quadrennial’s crown as outright best in the world.
Here’s who’s left:
Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp – Chicago Blackhawks [note: Keith & Toews can repeat as back-to-back DCC champs]
Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter – Los Angeles Kings
Martin St-Louis, Rick Nash – New York Rangers
Carey Price, P.K. Subban – Montreal Canadiens
Here’s who’s eliminated:
Marc-Édouard Vlasic, Patrick Marleau — San Jose Sharks
Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz — Pittsburgh Penguins
Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Pietrangelo – St. Louis Blues
Ryan Getzlaf , Corey Perry — Anaheim Ducks
Matt Duchene — Colorado Avalanche
Jamie Benn — Dallas Stars
Patrice Bergeron — Boston Bruins
Here’s who did not qualify:
Roberto Luongo — Vancouver Canucks
Mike Smith — Phoenix Coyotes
Shea Weber — Nashville Predators
John Tavares — New York Islanders
And unlike 2010 when Corey Perry joined Canada’s World Championship roster after winning Olympic gold in Vancouver, there are no players or staff that are representing Canada twice in the same season this time around.
Who’s your pick? Leave a comment to let us know! Choose correctly and you’ll be eligible to win an exclusive prize from Serenity Now…The SDC Blogs.
Rules: To enter, leave a comment on this post with your name, your pick, and where you’re from. One vote only — no do-overs. Those who select correctly will be entered into a draw for the grand prize. Good luck!
Larry Fisher from the Kelowna Daily Courier called in for episode 13 to debrief all the action from the 2014 NHL trade deadline. We talked Martin St. Louis for Ryan Callahan, Roberto Luongo to Florida, Gaborik to LA, Ryan Miller to Buffalo, Jaroslav Halak all over the place, Vanek’s path to Montreal, Edmonton’s moves of Hemsky and Bryzgalov, the non-moves of Brodeur and Kesler, and we both pick our winners of the day.
With the puck about to drop on the final 2 games of the 2014 NHL Stadium Series, TiqIQ.com has passed along some interesting data on average secondary market ticket prices for the March 1st Blackhawks/Penguins game in Chicago at Soldier Field. If you were planning on attending, but haven’t bought a ticket yet, here’s what you should expect to have to shell out:
-Current average ticket price for Saturday’s game: $230.77 (down 18% this week and 67% since its peak on 9/23/13)
-Cheapest ticket currently listed: $91 (originally $139), Section 432
-Most expensive ticket currently listed: $845 (originally $325), Section 308
All I know is, if I’m gonna cough up $825 to sit in a seat in the farthest section away from the ice in the stadium, my seat better come with an open mini bar, and the NHL Network installed into the back of the seat in front of me.
Comparatively, here are the average prices for the previous four Stadium Series games of 2014, as well as the upcoming Heritage Classic, ranked from most expensive to least:
-Yankee Stadium – Rangers/Devils – $244 ($89)
-Yankee Stadium – Rangers/Islanders – $206 ($43)
-Winter Classic – Red Wings/Maple Leafs – $156 ($57)
-Dodger Stadium – Kings/Ducks – $199 ($117)
-Heritage Classic – Canucks/Senators – $182 ($74)
Speaking of buying things hockey related, I know a t-shirt worthy catchphrase when I hear one, and thusly I put one on one. After TJ Oshie’s unfathomable shootout performance against Russia, “TJ Sochi” was one of the best nicknames to emerge from the Sochi 2014 Olympics, so here’s what I did with it:
Visit my Etsy store and make this shirt yours before everyone forgets about that fateful night in Sochi! It may even help to cover the American shame of losing the bronze medal game 5-0 and finishing fourth, after posting a video like this:
Canadians Should Cheer For The LA Kings, and Who American and European Fans Should Pull For in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final Four.
With the elimination of the Vancouver Canucks, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Montreal Canadiens from the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs — and every year Canadian city based NHL teams are either eliminated from the playoffs or do not qualify — there is a certain level of Canadian fan disengagement from the NHL as Canada’s best hopes of bringing the Stanley Cup back north are snuffed out. But with nationalistic pride in mind, there are still plenty of – predominantly, in fact – Canadian born players to cheer for on the remaining four American based teams. Here are the numbers to show you which teams are in fact the most Canadian, American, and European, and to whom your drifting allegiances would be best to land upon:
Canadians: Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Gregory Campbell, Johnny Boychuk, Daniel Paille, Tyler Seguin, Shawn Thornton, Dougie Hamilton, Adam McQuaid, Wade Redden, Rich Peverley, Andrew Ference, Chris Kelly.
Americans: Matt Bartkowski.
Europeans: Dennis Seidenberg (Germany), Jaromir Jagr (Czech Republic), Zdeno Chara (Slovakia), David Krejci (Czech Republic), Kaspars Daugavins (Latvia), Tuukka Rask (Finland).
22 total active players
Canadians: Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, Dave Bolland, Daniel Carcillo, Corey Crawford.
Americans: Nick Leddy, Brandon Saad, Patrick Kane, Brandon Bollig.
Europeans: Michal Rozsival (Czech Republic), Marian Hossa (Slovakia), Michal Handzus (Slovakia), Michael Frolik (Czech Republic), Johnny Oduya (Sweden), Marcus Kruger (Sweden), Niklas Hjalmarsson (Sweden), Viktor Stalberg (Sweden).
21 total active players
Los Angeles Kings:
Canadians: Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Justin Williams, Drew Doughty, Tyler Toffoli, Dustin Penner, Dwight King, Jake Muzzin, Robyn Regehr, Jarret Stoll, Colin Fraser, Kyle Clifford, Brad Richardson, Keaton Ellerby, Jordan Nolan, Tanner Pearson, Jonathan Bernier.
Americans: Jonathan Quick, Dustin Brown, Trevor Lewis, Rob Scuderi, Matt Greene, Alec Martinez.
Europeans: Slava Voynov (Russia), Anze Kopitar (Slovenia).
25 total active players
Canadians: Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Pascal Dupuis, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Tyler Kennedy, Brenden Morrow, Matt Cooke, Tanner Glass, Craig Adams, Deryk Engelland, Simon Despres, Marc-Andre Fleury.
Americans: Joe Vitale, Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, Beau Bennett, Brandon Sutter, Mark Eaton, Paul Martin.
Europeans: Evgeni Malkin (Russia), Tomas Vokoun (Czech Republic), Douglas Murray (Sweden), Jussi Jokinen (Finland).
25 active players
So, with all that being said, if your favorite/regional team has been eliminated, and you are in the market for a new team to temporarily align with and would prefer to cheer for a new team and/or players based on nationality, you now should have all the information necessary to appropriately select your new allegiance.
So this happened.
In brief summary, Daniel Sedin scored whilst getting Paul Bunyan’ed by Duncan Keith.
The goal effectively sunk Chicago’s chances at winning the game, and clearly brought out some frustration in Keith upon Sedin — whom you may remember from this incident just over a year ago, is not Duncan’s best bud.
“Well it looked like maybe there was a penalty that went undetected. You seemed a bit frustrated.”
Her line of questioning drew these comments from Keith:
Keith: “Oh no, I don’t think there was. I think he scored a nice goal. The ref was right there. That’s what the ref saw. We should get you as ref, maybe, hey? First female referee… can’t play probably either, right? But you’re thinking the game like you know it? OK, see ya.“
The problem for Thomson is, that the call did not go undetected by the referee, as illustrated in the picture below:
Had she gotten her facts correct prior to the interview, Thomson may have asked a completely different question, and Keith may have given a completely different response (and as a fellow hockey journalist, I’ve made plenty of my own mistakes, and likely will continue to do so in the future). But alas, they both said what they said — and most people think Keith’s a sexist jerk for his side.
I’d like to assume Keith objectively lambastes her like he would any male or female reporter that had asked him that question — only he then subjects himself to cries of sexism from his mentioned notion of her being the (assumably, NHL’s) first female referee. He didn’t say she’d be bad at it because she’s a female, he insinuated she’d be bad because he felt she didn’t know what she was talking about. Which, as the above picture indicates, wasn’t incorrect in this instance. He doubts she can play (which she acknowledges by offering that she can’t skate), or even think the game well either, which I can’t prove he meant is or isn’t due to her gender, but I’d venture it was just him being a prick out of annoyance.
But whatever his true motives, c’mon Duncan, keep a lid on it. Your team just locked up the President’s Trophy — why you heff be mad?
Well after a rather lengthy period of speculation and innuendo, Roberto Luongo has confirmed he is the owner/operator of the @strombone1 Twitter account. Short of literally saying, “Yes, I am @strombone1″, Luongo responded to questions about the account from CBC’s Scott Oake in the first person, and even explained his intent and inspiration behind each tweet in question. Not sure if Scott Oake was playing dumb, or is, just dumb.
[originally post for www.betonhockey.com April 23, 2012]
It only varies by a couple of weeks to a couple of months each year, but if there’s anything that functions like clockwork in the NHL, it may just be the Vancouver Canucks’ elimination from Stanley Cup contention.
As the Los Angeles Kings gradually got up on the Canucks in their quarterfinal series by one game, then two, then three, the question that kept resounding in my head was, “Are the Kings actually legit contenders this year, or are the Canucks total pretenders?”
Of course, I’ll subjectively take the opportunity to rag on the Canucks whenever I can, but objectively speaking, there’s no reason Vancouver should have been considered a pretender, or lost the series. As much as many mock the President’s Trophy for being meaningless in the long run (myself included), it’s certainly a poignant marker of how darn good you were all year. The Canucks had a good team this season, and their players had productive seasons too — both Sedin’s finished in the NHL’s top 30 for points, even with Daniel missing ten games; Hamhuis was 6th in league plus/minus at +29, Schneider finished eighth in save percentage with .937, and tenth in GAA with 1.96; Luongo finished 14th in wins with 31 – but when it came time to put up, they got shut up. After all, the first seed is supposed to have their way with the eighth seed that just managed to sneak into the playoffs by the skin of their teeth, right? Were they looking to far ahead – all the way to their return to the finals – without remembering the first step is the first round?
During the regular season, Vancouver finished 16 points ahead of LA in the standings, and scored 53 more goals than them (LA was second last in the league in Goals For), yet they only managed to split their season series against the Kings 2-2, and were outscored 7-9 by them in those four games. When it came around to playoff time, Vancouver only won 1 of 5 games, and was outscored 12-8, by a team that was synonymous with being unable to score all year. For a team that many thought Vancouver would walk all over (admittedly, myself included), LA kind of had their way with the Canucks all year – most importantly, when it counted.
So what went wrong? The biggest excuses are likely that Daniel Sedin wasn’t around the whole series, but his 2 assists in 2 games were still good enough for 5th in points on the team, ahead of 17 others who produced less. Henrik Sedin’s 5 points were equal to LA’s point leader, Dustin Brown. Two of Brown’s though were short-handed goals in the same game, and absolute daggers at that. All in, LA’s players recorded 30 points amongst themselves, while Vancouver only managed 23.
Goaltending-wise, it’s not like things were all that bad – Schneider’s 3 starts produced a 1.31 GAA and .960 save percentage (actually better than LA’s Jonathan Quick, who posted a 1.59 GAA and .953 save percentage), while Luongo was admittedly worse with a 3.59 GAA and .891; but each had an equal amount of losses to their credit. Quick faced 172 shots, while both Vancouver goalies combined only saw 165.
Many are going to gripe that there should have been a penalty on the play that saw Dan Hamhuis turn the puck over to Jarret Stoll, who buried the OT winner – even if that were valid, that’s one game, out of four lost. That’s why they’re seven game series. Some are even going to point at the extended layoffs between games 3,4, and 5 due to arena booking conflicts – truth be told, that was actually probably more of an advantage for Vancouver, who needed injured players like Daniel Sedin to heal and return. And some yet may just be embarrassed by the diving antics of guys like Ryan Kesler – well, you should be, that was just embarrassing.
But all excuses and kidding aside, now that the dust has settled and the smoke has cleared in this series, we’d be foolish not to consider the Los Angeles Kings a legit Stanley Cup contender – after all, they did just eliminate the league’s #1 seeded team. The Kings proved their toughness through the first round, and have big bodies that can cause a lot of damage against tougher teams. They’ve proved they can neutralize a strong offence with hot goaltending and a potent penalty kill, and their offence is clicking. The additions of Darryl Sutter, Jeff Carter, et al are beginning to make it look like LA’s owner Dean Lombardi knew what he was doing all along.
So if you can beat the best team in the league, who can’t you beat? It’s time the LA Kings are painted as a contender — we know now who the real pretenders were.
It’s such a beautiful thing. And you can count on it like clockwork. The Canucks are gone — 2012 edition!
As far as I’m concerned, Jarret Stoll’s probably done nothin’ for nobody (probably not true), but after this goal, he need not do anything again. His one shot cashed the cheque the LA Kings’ twitter wrote on April 12, “To everyone in Canada outside of BC, you’re welcome.”
Let’s see that, just one more time:
So who’s fault is it this year?
For a more in-depth/objective analysis by me of the LA/VAN series, click here for my article at betonhockey.com
by Peter Nygaard (follow him on Twitter)
We’ve already taken a look at the Eastern primaries, so now let’s examine the polls out West.
Vancouver Canucks (1) vs. Los Angeles Kings (8)
- The Issues:
Family Values — In the 1999 NHL Draft, Vancouver held the second and third picks in the first round. After drafting left-winger Daniel Sedin, the Canucks opted to use the third pick on his twin brother, center Henrik Sedin. The Canucks have played them almost exclusively on the same line throughout their entire collective career. When Henrik won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s most valuable player in 2009-10, he was even considerate enough to get injured the next year, giving Daniel a chance to showcase his skills.
- Health and Fitness — Nobody asked to see Ryan Kesler buck naked in this year’s Sports Illustrated “Body Issue,” but that having been said, you can’t deny that the dude’s in good shape.
- Political Dirt:
The Canucks enjoy tremendous depth. Some teams have gone as far as accusing Vancouver of stealing its players when they were turned around. The NHL has yet to file a formal inquiry.
- Campaign Promises:
If elected, the Canucks promise not to riot. Seriously, we only riot when we lose in Game 7 of the Cup Finals. Or when we get to the Cup Finals. Or when we beat the Blackhawks. Promise. :o)
- The Issues:
American Exceptionalism — Team captain Dustin Brown and starting goalie Jonathan Quick are two prominent members of the Team USA hockey club. They are also prominent reasons why the Kings are where they are. Quick posted a Vezina-worthy season, winning way too many 2-1 and 1-0 games for a goalie’s comfort, while Brown led all L.A. forwards in plus-minus, while dealing with the responsibilities that come with wearing the ‘C’.
- A Winning Combination — Less than a season after the Flyers took such great care in breaking up forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, the two were reunited when Carter was traded to the Kings for defenseman Jack Johnson. The Flyers soured on the perceived immaturity displayed by the talented twosome, but they both played key roles in Philly’s run to the Cup Finals in 2011.
- Kingdom Confidence — according to the LA’s Twitter, the Kings are playing for every Canadian that does not reside in British Columbia.
- Political Dirt:
The Kings are the second-lowest scoring team in the NHL and score less than all of their playoff peers. Can such a chaste team rally support in Hollywoodland? The Kings score less than A.C. Green.
- Campaign Promises:
If elected, the Kings promise to make hockey relevant again in the City of Angels. L.A. was rabid about the Kings in the Gretzky days. It’s a stretch to say they’ll become that popular again, but a playoff run would certainly be a start.
Vote For: Vancouver Canucks in 7
[editors note: SDC has LA winning the series]
Alright all you NHL teams that tried to weasel your way around the NHL salary cap by signing players to long-term front loaded contracts, how have your deals been working out for you so far? You thought you were pretty smart by signing those sneaky but legal deals, so let’s see what you’ve come up with so far.
New Jersey Devils, you made the most publicized deal of the bunch, signing Ilya Kovalchuk at age 28 to a 15 year, $100 million dollar contract; keeping him as your property until 2025 when he’ll be 42 years old. That very same year, Kovy appeared in 81 games and put up his worst year’s point total (60) since his rookie year when he only had 51 – a far cry from the 98 he put up as a Thrasher in 05-06. Oh, and you missed the playoffs last year too. You better hope he picks his socks up, because no team in their right mind is ever going to be involved in a trade for that much money for a player with such relatively poor point production. The only offsetting factor is that Kovalchuk’s an outstanding player. He could neutralize most of this heat by playing like a superstar again. If he doesn’t, the Devils get a FAIL on this one.
Philadelphia Flyers, you signed Chris Pronger at age 37 to a 7 year, $34 million deal that locked him up in orange until 2017, when he’ll be 43. You also made him your captain. You’ve had decent playoff success, but still failed to win the Cup. Pronger’s been injured on numerous occasions, with a knee and eye injury being the most recent. Last year he only appeared in 50 games, his lowest since 94-95, and consequently had his lowest point total since then as well. This season he’s missed games due to a virus, the afore mentioned eye injury, and surgery on his knee. Is he going to make it to 43? Although Pronger brings a lot of veteran leadership and experience, I’d say Philly is behind the count on this one. [update: on December 15/2011, it was announced that Pronger will miss the remainder of the NHL season and playoffs due to post-concussion syndrome]
New York Rangers, looks like you didn’t think your signing of Scott Gomez in 2007 for seven years and $51.5 million was that great a move after all, considering you paid him $18 million of that contract before flipping him to the Montreal Canadiens for them to pay the remainder. Might have been a good play though, Gomez’s point production is constantly under criticism, and he’s coming off a career worst point total of 38 (his best was 84 in 05-06 with the New Jersey Devils) — pretty poor for a centerman. He’s the Habs’ problem until 2014, when he’ll be 34 years old. In the end, a win for NYR for moving him, and a tie at best or loss for Montreal when it’s all over.
Vancouver Canucks, you inked Roberto Luongo at age 32 to a 12 year, $64 million contract, keeping him a Canuck until 2022, when he’ll be 43. As much as I hate the Canucks, there’s no question that Roberto is an elite goaltender, so I understand your wanting to keep him around. Thing is though, as great of a run you had last season, Roberto let in more than 20 goals during last year’s Stanley Cup Finals. Between that and your stars not scoring, you failed to win your franchise’s first Stanley Cup, and your fans destroyed your city. And that was only year one. You’ve got 11 to go, and Lu has already been shaky; giving way to “backup” Cory Schneider multiple times this season. Many think that Schneider should be the team’s #1 goaltender. Do that, and you’ll have $5.3 million dollars sitting on the bench every year you allow it. It’s great to have a President’s Trophy winning season and all, but if you fail to win the big trophy, it’s all for not. If Luongo can’t be consistent when it counts over the next decade, Vancouver loses this one. And maps may have to be re-drawn over the area that used to be the city of Vancouver, if rioters are given any more reason to cause carnage.
And New York Islanders, the pièce de résistance unquestionably still belongs to you. In 06-07, you signed Rick DiPietro to a 15 year, $67.5 million contract – keeping him on Long Island until 2021, when he’ll be 40 years of age. Apparently you were not informed that Rick needed to be kept in an antique store with a “FRAGILE” sign around his neck. You got two decent seasons out of him right off the hop, but it has been downhill from there. Due to injury, Rick played in only five games in 08-09, eight games in 09-10, and just 26 last season. Goaltending has been nothing short of a metaphorical revolving door, as DiPietro has shared the net with multiple goalies – none of which seem to be able to keep pucks out of it. The team has been, or close to, dead last in league standings the last number of years. You haven’t made the playoffs since Rick’s first season with the team. Between hip surgery, knee surgery, groin problems, neck injury, concussions, facial fracture, and sickness, DiPietro has only been able to play in a fraction of the games you surely hoped he would. And when he did play, the team still ended up being bad. Sorry NYI, there’s just no way you come out on top from this one. [update: on December 15/2011, DiPietro was placed on injured reserve yet again, after suffering a groin injury]
So, NHL owners, what have you learned?