Thursday, December 27, 2001

Kobasew! Chuck Kobasew just pumped a wrist shot past the Swiss goaltender on a feed from the effervescent Jason Spezza! Team Canada leads, 3-1.
Canada beating Switzerland: Canada is winning 3-1 early in the second period of this round robin World Junior Championship game... Jason Spezza is skating like the wind, I hope Ottawa Senators fans are paying attention...
What an embarassment: Most of my friends joined me in leaving the Caps-Flyers game after the second period. While I enjoyed haranguing Jennifer for leaving before the Caps late comeback on Saturday night, I was in now mood for yet another Caps loss, and they were already down 4-0, and playing like crap. The Flyers had more shots on goal through two periods than the Caps can usually muster in one of their good games. Kolzig got no support, and the Caps managed only a few shots in the whole of the first period, while the Flyers were dancing around them like ballerinas. Ugly 4-1 loss.
Penguins blanked once again: It has been a quarter century since the Penguins were shut out this many times in a season. (Pittsburgh Trib-Review)
What is this, the european union?! The NHL fined the Edmonton Oilers an undisclosed amount for wanting to work. The Oilers played their last game before Christmas on Dec. 21, giving them a four-day break. Rather than practicing the following day, the team voted unanimously to work out on Christmas. The NHL's collective bargaining agreement forbids practicing during the Xmas break.

Monday, December 24, 2001

.8 seconds: Jon Katz was just telling me, "oh, its over" as Peter Bondra tied the game with .8 seconds to go. Teams don't actually score that often after having pulled their goalies for the extra man, but the Caps had rallied back and were in control of this game. Crap! It was a hideously exciting game, but I really would have preferred a Pens win... and to blow a 4-1 lead, that is more than a bit embarassing for the Pens.

It was good to see that while Jagr scored for the Caps, Beech was there to counter for the Pens...

The overtime period was yet another in a long line of league embarassments, as the Caps were given a penalty when they were already on the kill. So the brilliant refs made it 5 on 3, after almost making it 4 on 2. It is time for the league to figure out their rules instead of making it up as they go along!

I can't talk about the rest. Read more in the Post-Gazette, the Trib-Review and the Washington Post
Andy Ference's ups-and-downs for the Pens: He flew high in the playoffs last spring, but has struggled mostly this season. "Last season, Ference avoided most of the downs, in part, because his ability to move the puck to the forwards dovetailed nicely with the need Lemieux and Jagr have for someone to get it to them. What's more, he knew better than to simply stand back and admire what those guys did after he gave them the puck.... He probably would be doing it again this season, too, except Jagr is laboring in Washington these days, and Lemieux has spent a lot more time in the training room than on the ice.... He was making some bad decisions, seemingly rooted in his desire to make good things happen. Trouble is, plays that were worth trying when he was working with the likes of Lemieux and Jagr became low-percentage gambles after circumstances separated them." (Pgh Post-Gazzette
Deciding your game on a coin flip: "Forget about the dreaded shootout as a means to decide the outcome of games at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Why not just flip a coin?

That's what happened last week at the Baltika Cup (formerly Izvestia Cup) tournament in Moscow. The Swedish and Czech national teams played to a 3-3 tie and after nobody scored in overtime, the game was supposed to be decided by a shootout. Trouble was, nobody told Russian referee Sergei Semyonov, and he declared the game over.

Both teams were ordered off the ice and officials from each team were told to meet in a hallway where a Russian official flipped a coin to decide the winner. The Czechs won and the game went into the record book as a 4-3 victory. The Czechs received three points for the win (European hockey tournaments use soccer's points system), while the Swedes received one, which impacted the final standings. The Swedes finished a point behind two Russian teams.

When the Swedes filed a protest to tournament officials, their chance to have the coin flip tossed out was defeated in a vote of tournament directors, with the Russians supporting the Czechs. How about that for a conflict? "Only in Russia," Sweden general manager Anders Hedberg said from Moscow. "This could only happen in Russia." " (Pgh Trib-Review)
Steigie says, stop pouting: Paul Steigerwald tells Penguins fans to stop their pouting: "Enjoy the good times while you can, and keep the bad times in proper perspective. Such is the cyclical nature of professional sports, although, in general, we Pittsburghers have had more than our share of good times over the years. The Steelers have played many a playoff game during the holidays since 1972, the Penguins have been one of the most entertaining teams in the NHL since Mario Lemieux came to town in 1984. We have cheered for more Hall of Famers on the fields and ice in the past 30 years than you can shake a hockey stick at. So, while the Penguins suffer through some tough losses brought on by a rash of injuries to their top players, I would suggest that you think about all the good times you have had watching the likes of Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Alexei Kovalev, Martin Straka, Mark Recchi, Kevin Stevens, Joe Mullen, Rick Tocchet, Paul Coffey, Larry Murphy, Ulf Samuelsson, Tom Barrasso and Luc Robitaille over the years."

Steigie also sees an uphill battle ahead: "If the Penguins make the playoffs this season, it will be one of Patrick's greatest achievements. The Eastern Conference never has been so competitively balanced. And the Penguins never have been so competitively challenged under Patrick. The loss of Jaromir Jagr combined with injuries to Lemieux and Straka have transformed the Penguins from one of the highest-scoring teams in hockey, to a team that can't buy a goal. If nothing else, we are learning the hard way, just how difficult it is to score goals and win games in the NHL." (Pgh Trib-Review)
Team Russia finalized:

Goalies: Nikolai Khabibulin, Evgeni Nabokov (though he is awaiting an IIHF ruling), and Egor Podomatsky

Forwards: Maxim Afinogenov, Pavel Bure, Valeri Bure, Sergei Fedorov, Alexei Kovalev, Ilya Kovalchuk, Viktor Kozlov, Oleg Kvasha, Igor Larionov, Andrei Nikolishin, Sergei Samsonov, Alexei Yashin, and Alex Zhamnov

Defense: Sergei Gonchar, Darius Kasparaitis, Vladimir Malakhov, Danny Markov, Boris Mironov, Oleg Tverdovsky, and Dmitry Yushkevich.

Team USA Finalized: The D may be mobile, but can they play defense?

Goalies: Tom Barasso, Mike Dunham, and Mike Richter

Forwards: Tony Amonte, Adam Deadmarsh, Chris Drury, Bill Guerin, Brett Hull, John LeClair, Mike Modano, Jeremy Roenick, Brian Rolston, Keith Tkachuk, Doug Weight, Mike York, and Scott Young

Defensemen: Chris Chelios, Phil Housley, Brian Leetch, Aaron Miller, Tom Poti, Brian Rafalski, and Gary Suter
Canadian disincentives to work: Not just when there's a hockey game on TV! According to the NBER, the country's social insurance programs have a strong correlation to massive early retirement.