Sports Outside the Beltway

NHL Suspends Defenseman Randy Jones

He is the third Philadelphia Flyer to be suspended this year.

Flyers defenseman Randy Jones was suspended two games by the NHL on Monday for his violent hit on Boston’s Patrice Bergeron, making him the third Philadelphia player suspended for a dangerous play this season.


The 22-year-old Bergeron was injured after he was hammered to the boards face-first by Jones in the first period of Philadelphia’s 2-1 victory over the Bruins.

Bergeron lost consciousness, was transported from the ice on a stretcher and was taken to the hospital where team physician, Dr. Bertram Zarins, diagnosed him with a concussion and a broken nose. No other serious injuries to Bergeron’s head or neck were revealed by tests and he was released Sunday.

The suspension was handed down by NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell.

Here’s the video

The hit was brutal no doubt about it. However if Jones gets suspended, why didn’t Ottawa Senator Anton Volchenkov get suspended for a similiar hit on Florida Panter David Booth on October 20th.

HUNTSVILLE, Ont. – Now Anton Volchenkov can rest easy with the rest of his Ottawa Senators teammates.

The National Hockey League is not reviewing his check on Florida Panthers left-winger David Booth during Saturday’s game at Scotiabank Place, meaning Volchenkov will not be suspended for the hit.

That won’t come as a surprise to Senators coach John Paddock, who couldn’t understand why there was any suggestion of a suspension in the first place.

The NHL agreed with John Paddock’s assessment that Anton Volchenkov, above, did nothing wrong.

That’s about the dumbest thing I’ve heard in hockey this year, in terms of anybody even talking about him being suspended,” Paddock said during a conference call. “So, that’s my thought on that.”

To recap, in the second period of Saturday’s contest, Booth had the puck along the boards, in the Senators zone, when he turned towards Volchenkov with his head down. They collided and Booth went into the boards before falling to the ice. He was eventually taken off the ice on a stretcher.

Here’s the video of the hit on Booth.

I don’t see any difference between what Volchenkov and Jones did. Does the NHL have a double standard for suspending players?

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Are you ready for some hockey?

The 2007-08 NHL season has its North American opener tonight.

DETROIT – If you don’t count two regular-season games played in London over the weekend, tonight is the NHL’s opening night.

The Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks, who split two games in England against the L.A. Kings, are in Detroit to play the Red Wings.

Elsewhere, the Montreal Canadiens travel to Carolina to play the Hurricanes, the Ottawa Senators are at the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Dallas Stars visit Denver to play the Avalanche.

The Florida Panthers begin their schedule tomorrow with a road game at the New York Rangers. Based on the acquisition of Goalie Tomas Vokoun, the team’s play late in the 2006-07 season, and the current talent on the team, I’m predicting a third place finish in the Southeast Division and a playoff spot next spring.


Ducks’ Pronger Suspended For Game 4

Chris Pronger had his second brain-fart of the Playoffs with this hit on Ottawa’s Dean McAmmond and its going to cost him a suspension for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals. As for the suspension the ESPN “Experts” disagree on whether or not the suspension is the right call. Pronger’s previous actions in the Playoffs made this suspension; I can’t deny he elbowed him in the head and that the player was hurt. Of course the Ducks were one of the most penalized teams in the NHL this season playing consistently on the verge of out of control. There is no doubt this will hurt the Ducks as Pronger plays nearly 30 minutes a game and is one of the cornerstones of the Duck’s defense, power play and penalty kill. Look for Ottawa to win tonight and head back to Anaheim with the series tied 2-2.


Stanley Cup Playoffs, Round Two

Eastern Conference
(1) Buffalo Sabres v. (6) New York Rangers
The Rangers easily won their series as Atlanta put forth the most embarrassing performance by a playoff team this year. While the Rangers dominated every aspect of their series and Avery got into the heads of the Atlanta stars, that was Atlanta and we already noted they were embarrassing this year. The Rangers’ problems start with their captain Jaromir Jagr, who while talented lacks the skill set to be a captain. At a point where leadership becomes key, as evidenced by Mark Messier leading the Rangers in 1994, will only serve to hurt them. The Sabres are just flat out good and the clear favorite in the East. A fast, talented offense leads them up front and a solid defense benefiting for trade deadline upgrades has been solid. Throw in the goaltending of Ryan Miller and this team should be in the Stanley Cup.
Prediction: Sometimes favorites do preval even if it takes a fight, Sabres win in 7.

(2) New Jersey Devils v. (4) Ottawa Senators
Despite parting ways with the 6’-9” defensive beast Zdeno Chara, the Senators looked better in the playoffs than at any point over the past few years. In fact as a whole the team looks good with strong goaltending, a defense that tied up the explosive Penguins offense, and an offensive onslaught that just battered the Penguins around the ice. I couldn’t have been more wrong about the Devils as Martin Brodeur continues to amaze with his ability and I shouldn’t of doubted him as much as I did. The offense for the Devils came through against a weaker than predicted Tampa Bay defense, while they are good I don’t think they will fair as well against the Ottawa defense.
Prediction:It’s a good year for Ottawa to win in 6.

Western Conference
(1) Detroit Red Wings v. (5) San Jose Sharks
Detroit has earned from their failures of the past few playoffs. In the Calgary series they adapted their game to play against their opponent instead of sticking to a system that wasn’t working. They managed to beat the best home team in the league on their home ice and looked good doing it. They will rely heavily on a mix of skill and brute force, while depending on a talented, but old goaltender. The Sharks have the fortune of two excellent goalies to use in the series, which could pay dividends in a long series or even if one of the goalies goes cold. The Sharks absolutely stuck it to a talented Nashville team making them look like they didn’t even belong in the same building. Possessing two solid top lines, like Detroit, will put a greater importance on the ability of defensemen to join the offensive rush at key times and the ability of the third and forth lines to provide offensive input and solid play in the defensive zone.
Prediction: The combination of youth, speed, skill and size put the Sharks over the top in 6.

(2) Anaheim Ducks v. (3) Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver spent their series against Dallas flopping between looking like a contender and an over-matched minnow. Roberto Luongo’s stellar play was key to the previous serious and will be a key again in this series. However, the test of the team will be the play of the Sedin twins if they disappear for large parts of the series, it will be a quick exit for the Canucks. The Ducks easily handled the Wild in their first round match up and built up a good bit of confidence for the next round. The two defensive pillars of Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger will eat up huge minutes for the Ducks and for the most part will have their way with the top lines for the Cancuks as well as continued boosting of the Duck’s power play unit. While Vancouver has the better goaltender, the ducks have two solid goalies who won’t let in the easy goals and can stand on their heads when called upon.
Prediction: Talent and depth carries a team and the Ducks win in 6.


Ducks, Senators Advance To Stanley Cup 2nd Round

I’ve staged a comeback with my picks upping my record to 2 of 3 as the Ottawa Senators and Anaheim Ducks books tickets to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as they both wrapped up their respective series in five games.

Ottawa Senators over Pittsburgh Penguins 4 games to 1 by scores of 6-3, 3-4, 4-2, 2-1, & 3-0

Anaheim Ducks over Minnesota Wild 4 games to 1 by scores of 2-1, 3-2, 2-1, 1-4, & 4-1


Rangers Sweep Thrashers

Well, I’m 0 for 1 on my picks so far as the Rangers swept the Thrashers out of the Playoffs winning the four games with scores of 4-3, 2-1, 7-0, & 4-2. The Rangers just stuck it to the Thrashers as the veteran leadership figured to lead the Thrashers was hardly a factor in the series. Good job by the Rangers overall they turned their season around after looking like they would miss the playoffs two months ago. They got hot to make the playoffs and have carried that through, if they can keep this play up their second round opponent will have a tough series ahead.

Update on other First Round Series:
New Jersey Devils tied with Tampa Bay Lightning 2-2
Buffalo Sabres lead New York Islanders 3-1
Ottawa Senators lead Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1
San Jose Sharks lead Nashville Predators 3-1
Detroit Red Wings lead Calgary Flames 2-1
Vancouver Canucks lead Dallas Stars 3-1
Anaheim Ducks lead Minnesota Wild 3-1


Canadian Province Passes Legislation Chastising NHL

In the ongoing Canadian meltdown over the Pittsburgh-Ottawa game being schedule for the afternoon and not at night, we can now add memebers of the Canadian government to the meltdown list.

The Nova Scotia legislature has endorsed a resolution chastising the NHL for its decision to schedule the Pittsburgh Penguins’-Ottawa Senators playoff game for Saturday afternoon rather than the evening Hockey Night in Canada slot.

The league is trying to accommodate the U.S. television network NBC, which usually airs NHL games on weekend afternoons.

Progressive Conservative backbencher Pat Dunn drafted the resolution. Nova Scotians are keen to see Dartmouth native Sidney Crosby in his first playoff season and a 4 p.m. faceoff makes no sense, Dunn said.

“Most Nova Scotians are very busy with their lives — out, some working, some shopping, running errands and so on,” Dunn said. “Just not a good time to be sitting down watching a hockey game prior to parents


Dallas-Vancouver Play 6th Longest Playoff Game Ever

Despite having to get up early, through sheer detemination (or stupidity) I stayed up for all 138 minutes and 6 seconds of the Vancouver-Dallas Game last night. For those keeping track thats about 2.3 games untill Marty Turco could not make his 52nd save and Vanouver won 5-4, of course Roberto Luongo was no slouch stopping 72 of 76 shots. However this is not the longest playoff game in NHL History, but the fact they were still standing after all of that was pretty impressive and in reality this game may have already won the series for Vancouver because losing like that has cause the downfall of many a playoff team. Below is listed how this game stacks up against the other marathon playoff games.

Date Final Winning Scorer Time
3/24/36 Detroit 1, Maroons 0 Mud Bruneteau 176:30
4/3/33 Toronto 1, Boston 0 Ken Doraty 164:46
5/4/00 Philadelphia 2, Pittsburgh 1 Keith Primeau 152:01
4/24/03 Anaheim 4, Dallas 3 Petr Sykora 140:48
4/24/96 Pittsburgh 3, Washington 2 Petr Nedved 139:15
4/11/07 Vancouver 5, Dallas 4
Henrik Sedin 138:06
3/23/43 Toronto 3, Detroit 2 Jack MacLean 130:18
3/28/30 Montreal 2, Rangers 1 Gus Rivers 128:52
4/18/87 Islanders 2, Washington 1 Pat LaFontaine 128:47
4/27/94 Buffalo 1, New Jersey 0 Dave Hannan 125:43
3/27/51 Montreal 3, Detroit 2 Maurice Richard 121:09
3/27/38 Americans 3, Rangers 2 Lorne Carr 120:40

In other action:
Ottawa defeats Pittsburgh 6-3 (Ottawa leads series 1-0)
Anaheim defeats Minnesota 2-1 (Anaheim leads series 1-0)
Sand Jose defeats Nashville 5-4 in 2 OTs (San Jose leades series 1-0)


NHL Faces CBC Anger Over NBC

Playoff scheduling by the league has raised the ire of the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) and many Canadian hockey fans.

It’s bad enough the Toronto Maple Leafs mismanaged and misplayed themselves out of the Stanley Cup playoffs. That Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers were both too lousy to qualify for the post-season doesn’t please many Canadian hockey fans either.

But now, to add insult to injury, Saturday’s Ottawa Senators-Pittsburgh Penguins game has been shifted to the afternoon to appease NBC.

No Hockey Night in Canada featuring a Canadian-based team. Instead, we get the trap-happy New Jersey Devils against the also-ran Tampa Bay Lightning.

NBC only bothers televising National Hockey League games in the afternoon, and it wants this game because Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby is the game’s marquee attraction. He’s young (just 19), successful (the NHL regular-season scoring champion) and plays hockey with a reckless abandon that endears him to fans everywhere.

One would think that this decision would be a no-brainer for the NHL suits, and league commissioner Gary Bettman. This season, the CBC is paying the NHL $65-million for the rights to broadcast hockey games. And the CBC has also extended its contract with the league for six years at a total of $600 million.

NBC pays nothing for the rights to broadcast NHL games. Instead it has a profit-sharing agreement with the league. Which begs the obvious question of why the NHL would bow to NBC’s request, rather than side with the CBC, which is paying the league all those millions.

Its hard not to blame the Canadians for being mad, their big teams aren’t in and now they can’t watch one of the few Canadian Teams in the playoffs as well as one of the best players in the game. Hockey Night in Canada is their Monday Night Football and they feel its a god given right to have the best teams (or the teams they want to see) playing. Unfortunatlly the league sees reality, the game is at critical mass in Canada. They don’t have to invest in Canada to attract fans in Canada it part of the Canadian gene make up, butthe NHL does need to invest heavily in the US to get the game fan base growing and the way they see doing that is getting the msot exciting young players in the game on US broadcast TV. The NHL need NBC (not vise versa), NBC can choose from a host of sports that would pull in simialr rates and make jsut as much money. Its a choice the NHL was willing to make as they try to become a big sport again, even though it may not work the have to try it.


NHL Playoff Time – 1st Round Edition

Its time for Stanley Cup Playoff and will bring some of the most intesnse hard fought games of any post-season in any sport, so here’s a quick look at the teams looking for Stanley Cup glory.

Eastern Conference
(1) Buffalo Sabres v. (8) New York Islanders
The Islanders put together a strong finish to be the last team to make the playoffs thanks to a shootout victory, while greatly improved with the acquisition of Ryan Smyth will suffer greatly without #1 goalie Rick DiPietro. The only risk to Buffalo would be losing goalie Ryan Miller, with the offensive talent the team has goaltending is the only portion of the team that could hurt them.
Prediction: The offensive assault will be too much for the Islanders, Buffalo in 5

(2) New Jersey Devils v. (7) Tampa Bay Lightning
This series comes down to Devils Goalie Martin Brodeur vs. Lightning Forwards Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. While Brodeur has the ability to carry a team on his back, but after playing 78 games this season he could breakdown at some point, the key for the Lightning will be making him work hard every game.
Prediction: Lecavalier and St. Louis come through, Lightning in 7

(3) Atlanta Thrashers v. (6) New York Rangers
A talented team, deep bench, playoff experienced players, and experienced coaching make the Thrashers a dangerous team these playoffs. Ranger’s Sean Avery can get under anyone’s skin as well as a playoff experienced goalie can help the Rangers down the stretch. The question for Atlanta is if their playoff rookie goalie can stand up to the pressure.
Prediction: Sean Avery does more harm than good, Thrashers in 6

(4) Ottawa Senators v. (5) Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins come in with some of the best young players in the game and a young goalie. The Senators bring in a veteran skilled team with a history of playoff failures to over come.
Prediction: Old age and guile beat youth and good looks, Senators in 5

Western Conference
(1) Detroit Red Wings v. (8) Calgary Flames
The Flames have the best home record in the league, but finished 8th in the Conference cause they can’t win on the road, not a good sign when you don’t have home ice advantage. Despite having on of the top players in the league and solid defense they lack what ever it takes to win at the other guy’s place. The Red Wings again put together one of the best teams in the league (even though the Cap was supposed to bring them back to erath). The Red Wings playoff hopes rest on the shoulder of Dominik Hasek and Todd ‘Sucker-Punch’ Bertuzzi.
Prediction: The Dominator does it again with some offensive help from his friends, Red Wings in 7

(2) Anaheim Ducks v. (7) Minnesota Wild
While the Ducks were the early favorite this season some of the luster off their shine is gone (especially when you lose to the Kings 4 times). However the ducks are backed up by 2 solid goaltenders, 3 forward lines that can hurt you, and 2 of the best defensemen in the game. Minnesota can throw some great offensive talent and goaltending back at anyone, they just don’t have enough to match up every shift against the Ducks
Prediction: With great pain in my gut, Ducks in 6

(3) Vancouver Canucks v. (6) Dallas Stars
Solid lines and improved defense help the Stars, but playoff history hold a dark cloud over goaltender Marty Turco’s head. Vancover plays a disciplined game and can exploit errors; however they will lean heavily on the Sedin Twins for offense while Roberto Luongo will danc eon his head to keep them in games.
Prediction: I go with goaltending and that will be Roberto Luongo, Canucks in 6

(4) Nashville Predators v. (5) San Jose Sharks
The Predators will lean heavily on Paul Kariya and Peter Forsberg (who is one of the best playoff performers in history) to guide the fortunes of the team, which includes staying healthy. The Sharks are one of the best power play teams in the league and one of the best at holding a lead when scoring first, to win Nashville will have to score early and stay out of the box. However, both team’s fortunes will rest on who finds the right goal tender to ride through the series.
Prediction: The power play will prove to be too much for Nashville, Sharks in 7

My advice…grab a chair and a beer sit back and enjoy what should be some exiting playoffs thanks to the ‘New NHL’.


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