Sports Outside the Beltway

Record comeback- Chicago Blackhawks beat Calgary 6-5

The 3-1-1 Blackhawks continue to make case that they are the best Western Conference team in the NHL. From AP-

Before they could work up a sweat Monday night, the Chicago Blackhawks were trailing the Calgary Flames 5-0.

Their goalie had been benched seven minutes into the game and their fans were giving them an earful for their sloppy play.


The Blackhawks did find a way to fix their situation and pull off an improbable victory against the team they knocked out of the playoffs in the first round last April.

Chicago matched the biggest comeback in NHL history, rallying from the five-goal deficit and beating the Flames 6-5 on Seabrook’s goal 26 seconds into overtime.

“We weren’t playing our game. Once we did, getting forechecking, getting pucks to the net, we realized we could get back in the game and get a win,” Seabrook said.

By rallying from five goals down, the Blackhawks tied the NHL record for biggest deficit overcome, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The previous club record had been a four-goal rally.

“A pretty amazing game,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “From the worst to as good as you can get.”

Seabrook picked up the puck and shot it past Miikka Kiprusoff in the overtime and was mobbed by his teammates as the crowd at the United Center rocked.

“A couple guys skated over the puck and it bounced around a little bit. And I just snuck in there, got control and got the shot,” Seabrook said. It was his first goal this season.

The Flames blistered Chicago goaltender Cristobal Huet with first-period goals by Dustin Boyd, Eric Nystrom and Jarome Iginla in a span of 53 seconds, prompting Quenneville to pull Huet for Antti Niemi.

“We weren’t very good in front of him. We know our goaltending has got to be better,” Quenneville said.

But Niemi didn’t fare much better early on, giving up two more quick goals as the Flames built a 5-0 lead. Calgary’s five-goal rampage came on just six shots and took only 5:29.

But the Blackhawks regrouped. They got second-period goals from Patrick Kane, Dustin Byfuglien and Dave Bolland to rally within 5-4.

Patrick Sharp’s goal, when he deflected in a shot by teammate Duncan Keith, tied the game at 5-5 five minutes into the final period and sent the United Center into a frenzy.

The Flames were shut out in the final two periods and the overtime.

Chicago, who outshot Calgary 39-20, broke the franchise’s previous biggest comeback record set in a 1989 game against Winnipeg.

These Blackhawks look for real to me. Most hockey players(and their diehard fans) would give up after falling behind 5-0.


Nikolai Khabibulin notches his 300th career win

He is the 24th NHL Goalie to reach that mark. From AP-

Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin came up big in the shootout to earn a milestone victory.

A game after his goaltending gaffe led to a loss in Edmonton’s home opener, Khabibulin became just the 24th goaltender in NHL history to hit the 300 career win mark.

He stopped all three shots in the shootout as Edmonton beat the Dallas Stars 5-4 on Tuesday night. Khabibulin had a far better night than Saturday, when he lost the handle on the puck with less than a minute, a miscue that led to a Calgary goal and 4-3 loss to the rival Flames.

“That was a hard way to lose that first game so it was good to see the team rewarded tonight,” said the 36-year-old free-agent acquisition. “It’s nice to hit that milestone but right now I am just happy that we won the game. I’ll try to build on it and make sure I don’t stop at 300, I guess.”

Alan Hemsky scored the only shootout goal.

Khabibulin, who played for Chicago, Tampa, and Winnipeg/Phoenix before coming to Edmonton, may be showing his age. IMHO I think he will be a backup goalie within 2 years, as long as a NHL team doesn’t let salary dictate who should be the starting goaltender. Like what is happening in Washington.


A Great Finnish- Florida Panthers beat Chicago Blackhawks 4-3

No I didn’t make a typo in the title of this post. The game was played in Helsinki Finland and for that and another reason I typed the word Finnish instead of finish.

The first game of the 2009-10 NHL is in the books for my favorite hockey team. On a shootout goal by Finnish born defenseman Ville Koistinen, the Florida Panthers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3.Panther-Blackhawk

After a scoreless first period, Chicago’s Patrick Kane opened the scoring. Coming off the bench after a penalty, Kane got a breakaway shot past Tomas Vokoun.

Florida quickly came back to tie the game. 2nd year Panther Michael Frolik scored a goal assisted by Steven Reinprecht and Dennis Seidenberg. The second period ended with the game tied 1-1.

Chicago jumped out to a 2-1 lead early in the third period and things looked to get worse when a Florida penalty gave the Blackhawks a power play. Then Chicago returned the favor less than 60 seconds later, they were called for too many players on the ice. Ville Koistinen who got the game winner in overtime, scored a goal less than a minute after the Chicago penalty.

Patrick Sharp scored a goal with a little over 8 minutes to go in the game to put Chicago up 3-2. With time running out, Florida looked like they were going to open the year with a loss. Then for the third time today, Florida rallied from a one goal deficit. Florida’s leading scorer from last season, David Booth, scored a unassisted goal at the 17:39 mark of the 3rd period.

The rest of the third period and overtime were scoreless. Chicago’s Jonathan Toews opened the scoring in the shootout, but Steve Reinprecht immediately got the goal back for Florida. Ville Koistinen’s gamewinner was sandwiched by Tomas Vokoun stops of shootout shots by Patrick Kane and Patrick Kane. Florida had itself an exciting 4-3 shootout victory.

Today’s game was great, but I don’t really know what it tells us about the Florida Panthers for 2009-10. Last season, Florida got out of its quitting habits when behind that were all too prevalent during the Jacques Martin years. I am still modestly confident that the Panthers could make the playoffs for the first time in nine NHL seasons.

Other things of note

*- Goalie Tomas Vokoun didn’t look real sharp today. If I were Panther Coach Peter DeBoer, I’d start Scott Clemmensen in goal for tomorrow’s game. Yes Vokoun stopped 51 of Chicago’s 55 shots today, including 2 of 3 in the shootout, but he looked awkward to me too many times during the game

*- Talking about shots on goal, Chicago had 55, Florida 24!

*- Interim Florida GM Randy Sexton has been given the job on a permanent basis. What the Panthers need is a new owner. Only then may this franchise get their act together rather than letting all the team’s best players go to free agency or trading them away.

*- My viewing of today’s game wasn’t without service interruptions. After all the work I had to do to ensure myself the chance to watch today’s season opener, Comcast decided today was the day to replace the defective cable wiring the technician who came to my house yesterday discovered. At three points during the broadcast, my cable was disconnected.

While none of the interruptions lasted more than a few minutes, I was and still am really pissed at Comcast. The reason I had a technician come yesterday was so I could watch today’s game from the comfort of my home. After fixing my connection, this idiotic company decides to do work on my house on the very day and time I wanted to make sure I had cable television. I called to complain to Comcast, but the company refused to stop the work. They could have dug up my backyard 364 days and 21 hours out of the rest of the year. Comcast- Lets screw our paying customers. That must be the company motto.


Hockey fans held hostage- DIRECTV-Versus Deal Appears Unlikely Today

Today is the first day of the 2009 NHL season and wouldn’t it be nice if I could watch the games. From the New York Times-

The National Hockey League season starts Thursday, but a dispute threatens to keep DirecTV subscribers from watching the games televised by Versus. If there is no resolution, an opening-night doubleheader (Washington at Boston and San Jose at Colorado) will not be seen on DirecTV, and the Rangers-Devils game Monday night will be blacked out.

DirecTV, a satellite operator, pulled Versus from its lineup at midnight Aug. 31 when the two sides could not agree on a request for higher fees by Versus and DirecTV’s plan to change the way it distributes Versus.

Directv and Versus each give different reasons for why the two sides are having this squabble. Either read the rest of the New York Times article to hear them or see this previous post of mine.

In the meantime thousands of NHL hockey fans who subscribe to Directv are about to get screwed over. I’m among them, the Florida Panthers are scheduled to play the Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow in a game that will only be carried on Versus and it looks like I’ll be unable to watch it unless I want to go to a sports bar.(Out of the 82 games Florida played the last two seasons, I missed watching maybe 10 games each season. In most instances they were games that weren’t broadcast) I’ve got Comcast Cable too at my house, but Versus isn’t coming in on my television.(Funny thing is, I’m getting every sports channel next to it on my receiver. It’s just Versus that’s blank) Comcast is the owner of Versus. I’m mad at both sides in this silly dispute, but my anger is more focused at Directv and the NHL. Firstly Directv looks to be the unreasonable party, because I have yet to hear any other satellite or cable provider complain about the fees Versus wants. Why isn’t anyone complaining?

Versus is getting plenty of complaints from angry NHL fans. In an effort to placate me when I called to voice my unhappiness , I was offered $50 off the Center Ice Package that I pay for.

As for the NHL they are sitting on the sidelines and taking no stance in this affair. Rather than fight for their fans, they issue empty platitudes about how Directv and Versus are important partners to the league. This dispute is clear proof of how dumb this league was when they entered into a television contract with this third rate television channel. Fans and hockey commentators thought it was dumb after it was announced four years ago and it looks even more idiotic today.

Update- The $50 off offer has been withdrawn by Directv, in spite of me having an appointment for Dish TV to come over tomorrow and hook me up for their service. Directv apparently doesn’t value their long-time customers. I’m bolting after being with them for 8 years. They can also count on me bad mouthing them from this day forward. I was very unhappy with them recently when I learned a Pay Per View movie I ordered was only available on one television set in my house even though I’m paying monthly charges for three receivers in the house.

Comcast came by and I do have Versus now.(My development has a cable deal with Comcast and up till recently EWTN wasn’t shown in English on Directv. My mother-in-law watches EWTN or Filipino Channels all day long) So I will be able to watch tomorrow’s season opener for the Florida Panthers from the comforts of home.

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Chicago Blackhawks Forward Patrick Kane pleads guilty to disorderly charge

Justice is swift in upstate New York. The original incident took place less than a month ago. From the Buffalo News-

Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick T. Kane and his cousin James M. Kane pleaded guilty today to a non-criminal charge of disorderly conduct for an early-morning fee incident with a Buffalo taxicab driver Aug. 9.

Chief City Judge Thomas P. Amodeo granted them both conditional discharges and ordered them to make a written apologies to the cabbie and pay $125 each in court fees. Amodeo stressed that he was imposing the same type of sentence he would impose on similar defendants with no prior criminal record in similar situations.

$125 in court fees and most likely a couple of thousand to an attorney to clean up his mess. All because of he didn’t want to part with twenty cents. I hope Kane shows better money management skills with all the earnings he makes from playing in the NHL.


Makes no cents at all- Chicago Blackhawk Patrick Kane charged with robbery

This hockey player is going to pay a lot more than twenty cents for his attorney. From the Buffalo News-

Chicago Blackhawk right winger and South Buffalo native Patrick Kane and a relative face robbery and other charges after allegedly assaulting a cab driver and failing to pay their fare after getting a ride from Chippewa Street early this morning.

Kane, 20, and James M. Kane, 21, were arrested about 5 a.m. on Eastwood Place, according to Buffalo police reports.

The pair allegedly punched the cab driver and grabbed money they had handed him after he told them he didn’t have twenty cents in coins to give them their change, the report said.

Their fare was $13.80 and they handed the driver $15, according to a report.

The cab driver told police he was punched in the face and head, grabbed by the throat and had his glasses broken during the incident.

A torn $5 bill was found in James Kane’s pocket while in the Erie County Holding Center, the report said.

Buffalo Police Department spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge confirmed Patrick Kane and a relative were arrested after an incident involving a cab driver.

Both men were charged with second-degree robbery, a Class C felony, as well as fourth-degree criminal mischief and theft of services, both Class A misdemeanors.

I am betting alcohol is involved. Why would a well paid athlete need the use of a cab? That and the incident being all about twenty cents just seems to make the most sense.


Damaged Goods- Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa to have shoulder surgery

He will be out at least four months. From ESPN-

Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa will undergo surgery Friday to repair a small tear in the rotator cuff of his right shoulder.

“Marian’s injury did not respond sufficiently to our non-operative treatment over the last three weeks so we have collectively decided today to go ahead with the surgery,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “Marian is a franchise player, and we want what is best for him and the Blackhawks long-term. This was a mutual decision and one we feel very confident is the right one.”

The Hawks signed Hossa to a 12-year, $62.8 million deal on July 1. The Hawks said they were aware of the injury before signing him.

Did Chicago have Hossa undergo a physical before signing him? If not, why not? At that kind of salary I would want to make sure a player is healthy.

Hossa gave the standard statement about the surgery being best for him. I’m not going to argue with other people’s medical decisions. I just wonder if Hossa knew he was hurt before signing with Chicago.

No question, Hossa is an excellent player. He scored 40 goals and 71 points last year for the Detroit Red Wings. Hossa has been well traveled of late. Since 2006 he has been with Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Detroit before signing with Chicago.

Hossa is expected to be shelved at least four months, so he’ll miss at least the first two months of the regular season.

Which means my favorite team the Florida Panthers won’t have to try stopping Hossa in the 2009-10 NHL season. Florida and Chicago play a 2-game regular season series in Finland next October.


Did the NHL make a mess of the 2009-10 schedule?

The upcoming schedule was released yesterday. Right away I noticed something interesting. Florida has a home and home series with Nashville.

Nov 28 and Mar 29 are when the Panthers and Predators play next season.

What I find interesting is- Florida is playing Nashville home and home for the second straight season. In 2008-09, the Panthers and Predators played on November 1st and December 23rd.

In light of the way the NHL season is set up, namely that any Eastern or Western conference team plays only play 3 home and homes in any season, Florida and Nashville shouldn’t meet home and home more than once every five years 15 western conference teams divided by 3 home and home series equals five.

Here’s a link to the 2009-10 schedule. Anyone have theories as to what happened here or am I off base?


NHL may bump up Cup finals start date

As it stands now, hockey fans will see a repeat of the 2007-08 final. From AP-

According to multiple sources, if the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings can wrap up their respective Conference final series by Wednesday night, the Stanley Cup finals likely would start on Saturday, May 30 in Detroit. In this scenario, Game 2 would be played on Sunday, May 31.

This is a change from a May 22 press release from the league that indicated that the championship series would begin on Friday, June 5, if both Conference final series didn’t end in four-game sweeps.

The Penguins can close out their series with a victory over the Hurricanes in Raleigh on Tuesday night. The defending champion Red Wings, meanwhile, have positioned themselves to advance with a win over the Blackhawks on Wednesday in Detroit.

I think Chicago is more than capable of taking Detroit to Game six. On the other hand, Pittsburgh has so dominated Carolina, I would be surprised if the series don’t end in a sweep.

I think bumping up the schedule is a good idea if the semi-finals end early. Why wait a week to begin the final round?

The NHL may be making this schedule change to accomodate NBC’s programming more than to satisfy its fans need for closure to the 2008-09 hockey year.

For the past several days, the league has been working behind the scenes with NBC, which has limited prime time real estate to devote to the Cup finals due to important “sweeps” week programming and the Tonight Show re-launch with new host Conan O’Brien.

According to wikipedia, May sweeps are over and the next isn’t till July.

NBC concentrates on just a small handful of NHL teams for their broadcasts. Two of whom are Detroit and Pittsburgh. I’m sure network executives are delighted these teams will battle it out for the Stanley Cup.


Hall of Fame Hockey player Clint Smith dead at 95

He was the last surviving member of the 1940 New York Rangers that won the Stanley Cup. RIP.

Hall of Fame player Clint Smith, a two-time winner of the Lady Byng Trophy while with the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers, has died. He was 95.

Smith died Tuesday, the Vancouver Canucks announced Thursday. He played 11 years in the NHL with New York (1936-43) and Chicago (1943-47) and was the lone surviving member of the Rangers’ Stanley Cup-winning team in 1940. Teammate Alf Pike died in March.

Smith was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.

The 5-foot-8, 165-pound center won the Lady Byng Trophy in 1939 and 1944, an award given for skill and gentlemanly play. He had only 24 penalty minutes in 483 regular-season games. Smith had a four-season stretch in which he wasn’t called for a penalty.

In the 1943-44 season, Smith set an NHL record with 49 assists while playing on a line with future Hall of Famers Bill Mosienko and Doug Bentley. The trio set a league scoring record by producing 219 total points.


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