Saturday, April 30, 2011

Puttin' the Canuck in the Royal Wedding!

I stayed up late to watch Kate and William's wedding , but I didn't catch what you'll see in the following video...

I've watched it several times now, and every time I laugh out loud :o)
Cheers to International Canuck fans everywhere, especially the one in the above video flying the colors of their fave team ;o) and the fan who posted the video!

Vancouver Canucks/Nashville Predators….so Much in Common!

By Lisa Ovens

I dub this series “The Series of Distinguished Acknowledgements”. Look at the potential hardware both teams are up for winning in June at the NHL awards…

The Jack Adams Award for Coach of the Year (Alain Vigneault, Barry Trotz)

The Vezina Award for Goal Tender (Roberto Luongo and Pekka Rinne)

The Norris Award for best defender (Shea Weber and his fabulous playoff beard)

The Selke Award for Best defensive forward (Ryan Kesler)

The Hart Trophy for most Valuable Player (Daniel Sedin)

Now that’s a lot of acknowledgement! (Please note I only listed nominees from the teams in this series)

Little Engines that Could

On a more mental level…if there is one big similarity between these Semi Final opponents, is how they both finished their first rounds….on incredibly high notes! The Predators had to win Round One. There was no other way. After losing their way out of the playoffs via the first round during five other attempts, it meant the world to their resilient fans to finally get through to the right side of the Quarter Finals. Heck I remember when the Preds had a devil of a time trying to secure a playoff win on the road! So having that Game Six victory, and at home in front of their chant crazy fans, was the bomb.

On the other side of this series, the Vancouver Canucks, stuck in what felt like a never ending post- season tango with the Chicago Blackhawks, also had to win Round One just so they could say “we beat them…we finally beat the Hawks in the playoffs!”. There was no other way. It took until an overtime goal in Game Seven to pull it off., and it all went down in front of the hometown fans. Talk about a high note!

Now these two teams are facing each other after both exercising some Stanley Cup Playoff demons. But for these best of seven games, the Predators are in unchartered territory, and the Canucks, not so much: they now have to exercise another demon, getting to the winning side of round two. The Nucks haven’t done this since 1994.

Where's The Love?

Thanks to the two days of the local media billing this as a boring hockey series before a puck was even dropped, the Nucks and the Preds might not be feeling the love they deserve right now. If you saw game one on Thursday night, you would have noticed the empty seats at Rogers Arena. It was the game no one wanted to attend. Are the ticket prices too high, or are we just not a serious hockey town, populated by superficial people that demand confirmation this will be good hockey entertainment prior to committing any time, emotions or cash. All I can say “It’s Playoff Hockey people, what more do you really need?”

Anybody But the Canucks!!

So Canuck haters have quickly jumped onto the Preds bandwagon. May the Nashville Predators enjoy this new found popularity and may it make their first Semi Final appearance all the more special.

On my turf, it’s pretty clear the Canucks are not Canada’s team. Too many Canadian hockey fans dislike us out here on the left coast and can not bring themselves to cheer with us. Cyberspace is full of hate. Oh yeah, I’ve been walking through it, and much like avoiding dog poop on Yaletown sidewalks, I’m stepping aside the steaming piles around the cyber space hockey communities.

All of this hate, kind a makes it more fun!
Go Nucks!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Don Cherry Suit Watch: Keepin' Up with the Jackets!

by Lisa Ovens

The last few days have been busy, and with a few more Don Cherry/ Coach's Corner appearances than normal, I'm behind on the posting So...up first, April 26th...'s a blast from the past! Don resurrects a look from back in the day when he coached the Boston Bruins. Nice touch, Grapes!

Then it was his choice for the Vancouver Canucks/Chicago Blackhawks Game Seven broadcast...

Wow...just wow. I was in a loud bar that night; almost as loud as this pattern! I had no idea what Don was talking about because I couldn't hear him, but that jacket was speaking volumes!

Hmmm....this one certainly draws the eye to the middle. Not sure why it looks off, which is uncharacteristic for Don. Hockey Night in Canada's is down to covering one Canadian team, the Vancouver Canucks. Here is the Vancouver Canucks/Nashville Predator's Round Two Schedule...

Game One     6pm Thurs. April 28  - Vancouver
Game Two    6 pm Sat. April 30th- Vancouver
Game Three  6 pm Tues. May 3rd- Nashville
Game Four   5:30pm Thurs. May 5th- Nashville
Game Five     5 pm Sat. May 7th- Vancouver
Game Six      Mon. May 9th- Nashville (start time TBA)
Game Seven   Wed. May 7th- Vancouver (start time TBA)

For everything Hockey Night in Canada/ Stanley Cup Playoff coverage, including video segments of Coach's Corner, please click this link! Lots of fun stuff :o)

Happy Playoffs!!

The Dream is Over

by Jan Snyder

What a sudden and sickening end to the Pens season. After playing a pretty good game Wednesday night, where the fans were awesome, they just couldn’t score even one goal to tie the game. Not that they didn’t try, they did. Not just Wednesday, but ever since Sid and Geno went out. I felt badly for the guys. Nice salute to the fans at the end.

Could it be the curse of the Mellon Arena? It’s just sitting there, watching everyone step into the new building and ignoring the old one.

Whatever it is, the whole season, that started out so promising on so many fronts, came to an end with nothing but a thud last night.

The good news is that Sid now has several months to fully recover and Dan Bylsma won’t have to answer any more questions about whether Sid’s coming back. We saw Geno skating so we can hope he has no setbacks and will return in time for training camp.

Will Kovy be back next year? Who will be gone before next training camp? Who will still wear the black and gold?

That’s about all we have to worry about now – at least until fall.

The playoffs will go on, I’ll watch, but my heart won’t be in it. I’ll hope that Vancouver wins it all (sorry, Marie!) and that again next season, Lisa and I can hope to see our teams meet in the Stanley Cup Final.

It’s been almost 24 hours since the Pens were eliminated and I still don’t feel any better. It takes some time, I guess.

Thanks for reading my columns, Pens fans! See you again for 2011-2012!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Report from Nashville: A Hockey Franchise Grows Up

By Marie Miesel

Let’s rewind 72 hours. It’s Easter Sunday in the buckle of the Bible belt. A day usually spent at church and with family. But this Easter was also a high holy hockey day. Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. After a dramatic Good Friday OT win, the Preds came home with a 3-2 series lead. A chance to win a playoff series for the first time in 6 tries. Having exorcised the ghost of last season’s Game 5 meltdown in Chicago, we were ready to watch hopefully a handshake on our home ice where we were the winning team. Such dread and such hope mixed together. The crowd was large for the pregame warm-ups. Questions loomed. Could we contain the Finnish Flash and the Perry Express one more time? As a previous year’s playoff slogan went Questions Will Be Answered. With our gold rally towels in hand and Pierre Maguire Inside the Glass, we settled in.

We got off to a rocky start with Teemu Selanne scoring his 6th goal in 6 games. I have always liked him as a player, was happy when he finally won a Cup in 07 but man did he make our team look silly. In the previous 5 games, the team that scored first won the game. Nerves were wound a little tighter. Nick Spaling a 3-4th line guy and PKer extraordinaire put a pass from Jordin Tootoo in the last minute of the first to knot the score at 1-1. In the second, the 2 old men and kid 4th line (Steve Sullivan, J P Dumont and Blake Geoffrion) put us up 2-1.

We give the Ducks a PP (very bad idea) near the end of the second period. Jason Blake makes it 2-2 going into the third. It looked like we had gone up 3-2 when Patric Hornqvist appeared to score on a deflection. It was waived off due a high stick. Nick Spaling and Jordin Tootoo team up again and the Preds go up 3-2. Hope was getting a little stronger. But then, (cue music of doom) Mike Fisher goes off for tripping at the 8 minute mark. It was one of the longest 2 minutes I’ve ever experienced. After that, it was holding on for dear life and watching the clock wind down.

Anaheim pulls their goalie. But Saku Koivu gets called for interference on Sergei Kostitsyn in the last minute. The countdown was on. David Legwand, our very first draft picks and EN expert, put home the final nail, 4-2 Preds. It was a very emotional moment. People were crying, hugging and cheering their hearts out. We have waited so long and endured so much to get to this moment. A shout out to the Day One fans who stuck with it through the horrible expansion years, the Balsille takeover attempt and the aching disappointment of 5 first round exits.

Lisa’s Canucks are now on our dance card. They will be favored, as they should be, being the best team in the league this year. But don’t count the Preds out. We are led by Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Pekka Rinne and cast of mostly unknowns who play their hearts out every night. And a fanbase who’s passion can no longer be overlooked.

Many hockey elitists have wanted us moved, have called us uneducated rednecks, have put down our city and our state. To all you, have a nice day because the Preds are playing in May!

Pierre McGuire from TSN comments on Nashville...

 "It was a spectacular event and I have to tell you guys this right now. What blew me away more than anything else was post game. The amount of people that were crying because they were happy. The amount of people that said thank you for supporting our franchise. The amount of people that said we really appreciate your network covering our games. I was blown away by the hospitality, by the humbleness, by the polite nature of the fan base here and it’s not just me. There were so many Canadian people at this game. A lot of people obviously view Nashville as a destination type area where you come and you watch … go to museums … you go to the Grand Ole Opry … you listen to country music. It’s just a destination location. And it’s a lot of fun. I was blown away by how many people enjoy this team, by how many people care about the future of this franchise, and by the passion of their fan base. This is a winner. Nashville is a winner. Hats off to Gary Bettman. He had the vision to let this thing play itself out. It’s playing itself out right now. This is one of the better franchises in the league in terms of talent on the ice. This is a very positive thing for the league. Very positive".

Canucks Win Game Seven!!! Lisa says Bye Bye Blackhawks :o)

Canucks win Game Seven 2-1 in Overtime

by Lisa Ovens

A story book ending came in overtime, punctuating a first round series that seemed to take forever to play out. Alex Burrows was the first star of the game; riding a roller coaster of his very own - scores first goal, later on he's hauled down and gets awarded a penalty shot, but his shot was turned away by the Hawks' Corey Crawford.  Then he takes a penalty in overtime (never a good thing), and a short time later, he seizes an opportunity and pots the OT game winner.

I can't begin to express the relief I felt once that red light went on. After three consecutive kicks at the can, this version of the Canucks knocked the talented Chicago Blackhawks out of the Playoffs. The Canucks managed to right a ship that was dangerously close to sinking.

We'll live for another day in the Stanley Cup Playoffs!!!

I enjoyed the crowds downtown Vancouver tonight; the sound of honking horns is just music to my ears!

Next up for me...waiting to see if Jan Snyder's Pens get through to ROUND TWO;  their Game Seven against the Tampa Bay Lightning happens Wednesday night. And next up for the Canucks...a round two date with the wily Nashville Predators. If you follow this blog, guest writer, Nashville Predator season ticket holder, and good, good friend of mine, Marie Miesel and I will be pitted against each other...a first for me since I've been running the blog at Bottom's going to suck!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011


In a few hours...all will be come clear.

GO CANUCKS GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Struck Down by the Lightning – Again!

Series Tied 3-3

by Jan Snyder

"Hey, Sid? Sid, how’s the head feeling? "

If ever there was a time when we needed a hero to ride in on a white horse and save the day, it would be on Wednesday for Game Seven. Adding Sid to the lineup would be great, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. So these boys that have played so well all season need to get their confidence back, lick their wounds, and win the next game!

This one started out promising enough with Dupuis scoring the first goal in the first period. But  the Tampa Bay Lightning quickly tied it up, and in the second period, went ahead. From there it almost became a comedy of errors although there was nothing at all funny about it.

Baby Penguin Chris Conner was awarded a penalty shot, but as he came in on goal, he just lost the puck and never got a shot off. Scrums and fights broke out, things got silly, but the second period ended with no more damage on the scoreboard.

Jordan Staal tied the game again at 2-2, but that would be the end of anything good for the Pens on this night. Downie and Pittsburgher (in name only) Ryan Malone each added another goal.

Although the Pens were given a plethora of power plays, they couldn’t convert on any of the five, giving them a truly woeful power play percentage in this series.

Okay, let’s look at the bright side. We’re coming back home to our crowd who have never seen this group wrap up a series. Wouldn’t that be a nice payback for all the support all year long? We’ve won Game Sevens before – on the road. Surely we can win one at home.

Didn’t seem like anyone got hurt tonight, other than their pride, so we should have all hands on deck.

Maybe if we get to the second round, Sidney Crosby really will come back – we can dream, can’t we?

Let’s be good fans and cheer for all we’re worth on Wednesday night and bring the house down with a big win! Maybe Fleury needs another outburst of cheering his name, too. Couldn’t hurt.

Let’s Go, Pens!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Canucks/Hawks Post Game Six: Tough Day at the Office

Why did the late Roger Neilson do this? Refs and Blackhawks were involved!

Series Tied 3-3

By Lisa Ovens

The Canucks did everything but win Game Six Sunday night in Chicago. So once again we lost a Game Six to the Chicago Blackhawks.Not that I know anything about this, but I wonder if kicking a herion habit is easier than the Canucks kicking the Blackhawk monkey off their backs?

Alas, we have a new page in the ongoing saga that is the Canucks/Blackhawks Playoff relationship: a Game Seven. For the third meeting in as many years, it will be different, as these teams have always said “see ya next year” after game six, with the Canucks staying behind as the Hawks move forward. But, not this time. It is a whole new plotline (as if we haven’t had our fill of those yet).

Last playoffs, not once did the Blackhawks have to play a game seven.  So Tuesday will be yet another page turner in the big book of A Tale of Two Cities: The Vancouver and Chicago version.

And how about those Hockey Gods, huh? They sure were bringing it. However, the Canucks have some positives to take from Game Six, and I hope for their sake they are not feeling too demoralized after the overtime loss Sunday evening.

That's all I got for now, as I have to get up really early. But I will continue the column Monday evening.

But before I go, I must congratulate the Nashville Predators and their fabulous fans on their very first playoff series win. Bravo!!!!

Canucks/Hawks Game Six: Game Day Fun!

Well, maybe not everyone does at this point...I know I do :o)

By Lisa Ovens

Is it hard to have fun today if you are a Canuck fan? Probably. I’m sure many are feeling like nervous parents watching their kids work through some terrible ordeal or something.

I’m just working my way through a 2 pound chocolate bunny, waiting for the game to begin. I’m listening to Canuck bench boss, Alain Vigneault being interviewed on the radio – he sounds like he has a cold.

It’s been several days of Game Six Pre- Game stuff on the old checklist. Like we haven't been here before. Third time's a charm, eh?...

Canucks had a players meeting. Check.

Canucks employ a loosening up tactic during a practice (playing with tennis balls). Check.

Haters hating on the Canucks and their fanbase? Check.

Chicago sports writer pens a column that’s embarrassing to Blackhawk fans and the city of Chicago? Check.

Brent Seabrook back on the roster. Check.

Luongo starting in net for the Canucks. Check.

UPDATE: Cory Schneider gets the Start....GO CORY GO!!!!!

People still arguing over Vigneault’s decision to start Luongo. Check. (this will still be an argument, even though it is Cory in net now)

Everyone knows the Sedin twins, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows need to stand out in positive ways from this point on. Check.

Possible that the Blackhawks will have a subpar game, because after all they only finished in 8th spot, therefore they must have blown a few important games in recent memory. Check. Grasping at Straws? Check.

Everybody pretending like it’s a Game Seven. Check.

People forgetting the Canucks still lead this series. Check.

Good Luck, Canucks… You just need to have more goals than them. Win the game.

Happy Easter, Hockey Fans!!

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter!

(a hockey related Easter item, not made from chocolate!)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Lightning Strike Creates Frankenstam-kos!

Pens Lead the Series – 3-2

by Jan Snyder

When I woke up this morning, I knew I’d be in for a great day of hockey, and I felt fully confident that the Pens would wrap up this series at home today. Little did I know a strike of lightning would create Frankenstamkos! All of a sudden, Steve Stamkos woke up and had two goals, an assist and an all around great game. The whole Lightning team had a great game.

enter to win and meet Frankenstam-kos!!!

The Pens started out well enough, with a wildly enthusiastic crowd on their hands for such a ridiculously early starting time. That should have been our first clue that this game wouldn’t go well. The Pens don’t ever seem to do well in these early weekend games. But right from the start, things went wrong. Orpik bonged the puck off the goal post, and then a few shots that should have gone it didn’t, just like the game before. The first Pens’ power play looked good, although they couldn’t get it past Roloson. And before long, Tampa started shooting, scoring and never looking back.

Give the Pens and the fans credit for never giving up. They finally scored two late goals, but the game ended with a crazy baseball score of 8-2.

Let’s shake it off. Get out of the rain in Pittsburgh and get back to the power of the sunshine. We can take it in Tampa! We’ll still up a game and if we need to, we can do it in seven!

Odds and Ends

• I loved Bobby Ryan’s goal from the game the other night. Pierre LeBrun pointed out on Twitter that the goal was “Mario-esque.” I couldn’t agree more – very reminiscent of 66 from the Stanley Cup Final game against the North Stars.

• This first round has produced so many outstanding games already, it can only get better. Nashville coming back and winning in overtime was just one of them. I bet Marie, our columnist from Nashville, is still peeling herself off the ceiling.

• Have you noticed all the unusual facial hair this playoff season? The boys are getting creative and different with muttonchops, skinny moustaches, full-blown beards and everything in between.

• If they gave out a Stanley Cup for fans, many teams would be in the competition, but I think the fans of Montreal would win hands down. They truly react as one person – it’s just amazing. Maybe because I was there a few years ago and experienced it first hand, but I am constantly reminded of what terrific fans they are and how they get behind their team.

• Days like these filled with games like these – don’t they make you want to bottle it up and save it for the middle of July? The passion of the players, the fans, the announcers, us in our living rooms – it just doesn’t get any better than the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Report from Nashville: The Agony and the Ecstasy

Games Four and Five

by Marie Miesel

Game 4 was also in Smashville. Good crowd though a little nervous. Could the Preds take a 3-1 series lead? Would our Vezina trophy candidate goalie get back to his regular season form? Would our D hold up under the onslaught of the Perry Express and the Finnish Flash? For two periods we held on, but in the third the flood gates opened starting with a shorthanded goal from Corey Perry. When it was all said and done the Ducks came away with a 6-3 win. Visions of previous playoff failures danced in our heads that night.

Game 5 was back in Anaheim. We scored the first goal; a pretty pass from Jordin Tootoo to Kevin Klein put us up 1-0 after one. The Ducks Jason Blake scored on the PP to even things up in the second. Poor Shane O’Brien. He’s taken a penalty in every game and the Ducks have scored on the ensuing PP each time. Love his toughness but his hockey IQ perhaps isn’t the highest. Tied 1-1 going into the third, Pred Nation held it’s breath as the period began. Forty seconds into the period, Bobby Ryan, back after a two game suspension, scored what many consider to be the goal of the playoffs so far. Poor David Legwand, he was still looking for his shorts on the way to the plane. And can I just say that I really hate it when our team ends up being on someone else’s highlight reel.

We fought back. Joel Ward tied it up. The Ducks re-took the lead on another Jason Blake goal. Most of us figured oh well we’re done. Another playoff failure. But something magical happened. History was made. With 38 seconds left, with our goalie on the bench, Mike Fisher wins the faceoff in the Ducks zone. The puck makes it way to our Captain Shea Weber who wrists it past Ray Emery. Tie Game! Less than 2 minutes into the overtime period, Jordin Tootoo fishes the puck out from the left half wall and puts it on Jerred Smithson’s stick. Jerred buries it for a 4-3 win. The first Game 5 win, the first OT win, and the first time we have been up 3-2 in a series. even has a “History will be Made” commercial for us now. History believes in firsts.

Now for fans like Lisa Ovens and Jan Snyder, Game 5 wins and first round series wins are old hat. They’ve been there before. We haven’t. We’ve watched the handshake with the winning team on our ice five times. We are a blue collar, non superstar team from a small non-traditional market. As I said in a previous column, these guys are our family. We rejoice and mourn with them. We fought tooth and nail to keep the team here when everyone outside of Nashville wanted them moved. And to be this close to breaking through and proving that we do belong is exciting and terrifying all at the same time.

 But at 5 pm CT today, the Bridge will be rocking once again. And I and my fellow citizens of Pred Nation will be there, hoping that history will be made once again.

Don Cherry Suit Watch: Grape's SODA!!

From Thurs. April 21st Coach's Corner...

Oooh my...Purple Crushed Velvet...extra marks for the yellow tie and breast pocket hankerchief. Don Cherry sports an Easter Basket look and its perfect for this long weekend of Quarter Final Playoff hockey.

Hey guys...ever wanted to learn how to properly fold your breast pocket hankies? Then this gentlemanly site is for you!

UPDATE: Coach's Corner April 23rd, 2011

Another Easter Basket look for Don Cherry...soft pink and a flash of purple. Grape's is looking fresh as he waits for an OT goal in Game Five of the Bruins/Canadiens series.

Games 4 & 5 Canucks/Hawks: From the Madhouse to a Slaughter House

Game Four Blackhawks 7 Canucks 2
Game Five Blackhawks 5 Canucks 0

Canucks lead series 3-2

by Lisa Ovens

Well, for me personally, I started to become concerned leading up to Game Four. It was the over usage of the word “sweep” and the generic image of a broom, or the use of one as a prop on a set…like the broom acknowledged on Global News' The Stanley Show….yeah Squire Barnes, I’m talking to you. The morning after I saw that, I heard a female radio show host boasting “We’re gonna win the Cup!” . Then  someone told me they saw a weather girl on TV with a broom. After Game Three, it seemed as though the team, the city fell under a spell simultaneously, by that little word, sweep. The day the series began, I predicted Canucks in six, and after Game Three, I, too, was hopeful, but more looking at winning four in a row being a bonus, if anything.

And now, we all remember Game Four. The game when both the Canucks and the Blackhawks transformed into other teams, perhaps from another time, like, say, only a year ago. Or the year before that. This time, instead of turning the final screw, the blue team played with a screw (or two, or five) loose.

Game Five became Part Two of the remake of Trying to Knock out the Blackhawks: Part Five. Yes, it is starting to sound that crazy. What we are witnessing, (and it doesn’t often happen) is the more fragile side of a three nothing lead in a playoff series. And on the flipside, the grand possibilities of being down three nothing. But then again, it could also be viewed simply as the Canuck Way…in the end nothing’s going to come easy.

The Canucks launched a Canuck playoff micro-site called Well, peeps…how do you like these apples? Newer fans are learning what the Playoffs are all about. There must be some fans just freaking out right about now. The rest of us should just know better - especially the ones who work in the local media. As that Nuck title says…this is what we live for. It’s the playoffs. And it isn’t over yet…the Canucks have a shot at winning Game Six, and making me, and others look like mild geniuses. If not, we always have Game Seven. Time to look for something to rally around, boys…you’ll need that.

Rallying sure worked for the Blackhawks. Dave Bolland’s returns from injury and is making a difference, Brent Seabrook’s out, courtesy of Raffe Torres, and they just don’t like that. Net minder, Corey Crawford earns his very first NHL playoff shut out on the heels of his very first playoff win. Heck, even cold Marion Hossa heats things up earning second star, tallying two goals. Perhaps this is why Hossa showed up in my dream the other night (Click here for more about the dream).Hossa. Hossa of all people!!!

If the Canucks are going to re-visit any time from the past, they should go back to Nov. 20st, 2010. They were embarrassed by the Blackhawks on home ice in a 7-1 loss. Yeah, I know the Canucks have a myriad of embarrassing dates with the Blackhawks to chose from. But the Nov 20th one was definitely a major rallying point. I believe “accountability” was the word of the day back then. The team turned it around and steamrolled through the rest of the season finishing in top spot over the entire league.

Finding the rallying point is one thing, what to do with goal tender Roberto Luongo is another. Do we look to the other half of the regular season’s best goal tending duo? No, apprently not. Coach Alain Vigneault will be giving Luongo the start on Sunday. I was kind of liking the idea of a battle between the Two Cory's (or Corey's) in net.

Come on Canucks, the extra day between games will be a blessing. Soon it will be time to kick start yet another winning streak, but every one of you must buy in to it all over again. It's a game six you can afford to lose...this time. But do you really want to do that?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lightning Strikes Again – But for the Pens!

Pens up 3-1 in the series

By Jan Snyder

Just like a quick strike of lightning, James Neal's quick goal won the game for the Pens! So now we know that James likes drama and was waiting for just the right time to score that first goal in the playoffs. He couldn’t have picked a better time, slamming the puck into the goal from a crazy angle in the second overtime.

This was a strange contest. The power came back to the Pens power play as Tyler Kennedy (Kennedy!) scored a nice one in the first period before a strangely quiet Tampa Bay crowd. This time it was the Lightning who went 0-4 on the power play. In the second, that hard working fourth line did it again as Arron Asham put the Pens up by two.

I don’t want to doubt the Lightning’s passion, the series sure isn’t over yet, but I didn’t sense much urgency in their play as the quiet crowd sat on their hands. But then the little pest, St. Louis, did his thing and scored the first goal, exciting the fans and bringing some noise to the building. When Tampa scored a second goal and tied it, things really started to get interesting.

Although they tried, the black and gold couldn’t score in the third and overtime loomed large. I had a feeling that Kovy would be the hero and win the game for the good guys, but as OT 1 went on and on and my blood pressure got higher and higher, neither team scored and ultimately the buzzer sounded.

Oh, no, OT 2! The Pens looked like the stronger team, but it had been a strange game. The Tampa Bay goalie, Roloson, looked like he could be scored on, but he wasn’t. Many shots looked like they’d go in for the Pens, but they didn’t. All in all, one of those head scratchers. Seemingly, the puck was always with Vinny, Marty or Steven Stamkos, but nothing was happening as Fleury turned away all their shots.

Then, from out of nowhere, came James Neal! WooHoo! And sparing us all heart palpitations as he scored about four minutes into the period.

The defensemen were incredible and Orpik played almost forty minutes in the four plus periods! Maybe the team should get him a scooter to ride around in for the next couple of days and let his legs get some rest.

I’m a little concerned about Max Talbot’s head as he took quite a shot near the end of the game. He came back for OT, but I hope everything is okay. Jordan Staal took a nasty header into the boards, but he returned as well. And on Saturday, we’ll get Chris Kunitz back from suspension; however, Tampa will get Downie back from his suspension too.

The home crowd will be fired up and wanting to pull the Pens through and hopefully wrap up the first round. The scheduling is on our side as the guys will have three days to recover from the overtime periods.

Let’s keep this roll going, shall we?


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Report from Nashville: Game Three in Smashville

by Marie Meisel

Unlike Lisa and Jan, my boys started their quarterfinal series in Anaheim, California. Game 1 was a 4-1 Preds win. Our captain, Shea Weber scored on the power play and they bore down after that. Game 2 was a 5-3 loss with the last goal being an empty netter. They got behind the 8 ball in the first 5 minutes by putting the Ducks on the power play. Two goals later and the Preds were fighting for their lives. They pulled back to within 1 at 4-3 but couldn’t force the overtime. The Ducks definitely play with an edge and sometimes they cross the line. Late in the game Bobby Ryan stomped on Jonathan Blum’s foot trying to get the puck away from him. This was a costly decision as he is now suspended for the 2 games in Nashville.

Which brings us to Sunday and Game 3 at the Bridgestone Arena and TSN was in the house. The area in between the team benches are usually sold seats but we got Pierre Maguire Inside the Glass instead. The team put on a pre game party on the plaza in front of the arena. But at 5 pm CT, we were ready to rock the Bridge. I hope the folks watching the game on TV got a sense of the intensity of the crowd. Hopefully, it will put to rest some of the critics who say we don’t “get” hockey down here. You better believe we do. We were loud from the player intros on. It was amazing to be a part of such passionate crowd.

Jerred Smithson took a penalty in the first 5 minutes and the Ducks dangerous power play went to work. We managed to kill it off and got on the board with our first goal on the power play. We have had a power play goal in each of the 3 games which is amazing considering our power play has been an Achilles heel for us all season. Jordin Tootoo put a puck home mere minutes later. In fact, our arena announcer (Paul McCann) was announcing Erat’s goal when Jordin scored. We were up 2-0 after one and feeling pretty good. The second period saw the parade to the penalty box continue. Then the ducks went on the power play again and Teemu Selanne made us pay. He scored again 30 seconds later when the puck took a funny bounce off our boards and popped right onto his stick. We took the lead back with a goal from David Legwand. The ducks tied it up. Mike Fisher scored the game winner and the last 8 minutes were tense as we held off the Ducks. The relief and joy that roared through the building when the final buzzer went off was awesome.

Many citizens of Pred Nation were hoarse, nursing upset stomachs and feeling their heart rates return to normal on Monday after such a game. But you can be sure that we will be back loud and proud again on Wednesday night for Game 4.

More Don Cherry Suit Watch

Catching up with the wardrobe of Hockey Night in Canada's Donald S. Cherry. Saturday's jacket celebrates Spring. Who's spring, I am not sure, since so many Canadian cities are still in the throws of winter- like conditions. Grapes does have a pink version of the above suit; perhaps we'll see that in the second round.

Here's a shot of last night's jacket...a crazy one, indeed....for some reason, it makes me want to eat a banana.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pens/ Bolts Game Three: Stealing the Thunder from the Lightning!

Pens up 2-1 in the series

by Jan Snyder

The folks at the St. Pete Times Forum tried hard to give their team the advantage in this first playoff game in Tampa. They handed out drums as patrons entered the building. The idea was to make as much noise as possible and knock the Pens off their game. Good thinking, except…

The Pens came out flying and noise or no noise, they stole the thunder! Max Talbot and Arron Asham each scored quick down and dirty goals in the first period. Those two goals essentially took the crowd and their drums out of the picture. Before the first period ended, Marty St. Louis scored the first of his two power play goals, just to make things a little interesting. I said before the series started that I’ve always liked St. Louis, but I’m starting to feel differently about him already!

I would have thought the building would be louder than it was, unless the TV broadcast was muffling some of the sound. You would think having their first playoff game would bring out more passion in the stands, but I didn’t notice it so much.

By the time the third period rolled around, St. Louis made it interesting yet again, bringing the score to a 2-2 tie, but on just the next shift, our own little tiger, Tyler Kennedy (Kennedy!) popped out of the pack and found the goal to put the Pens up for good.

Still no change on the status of the Pens power play – it’s just about on life support, now a dismal 0-15 in the three games. But it’s getting closer – we can feel it – it’s coming – just a few more tries…same can be said for James Neal’s attempts to score. Not quite there, but coming.

How about Kris Letang? After a less than stellar game last time, he sure made up for it in this one. Two assists, five shots, five hits – he seemed like he had a clone as everywhere you looked, there was another “58” hustling to the puck. Overall, the defense played a much stronger game and it showed on the scoreboard.

Fleury continued to be amazing, stopping Tampa’s big three several times. Only St. Louis seems to be able to beat him, scoring a goal for each of his root canals.

Nice to see Max Talbot get a hard-earned goal. His line was all energy tonight. Also nice to see Ben Lovejoy carry on an intelligent conversation after the game. When he got hit behind the goal, I was afraid we might have another concussion to deal with, but he seemed to be fine. We’ll see if Steve Downie is fined after the NHL review of that hit that saw him leave his feet.

So, the players now have another day at the beach to soak up power from the sun and breathe some life into the anemic power play to get it breathing on its own again. Then on Wednesday, back to business and getting another win in Tampa!


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Playoff Time Out...Chocolate Hockey Easter Treat!

Every since I posted a previous Chocolate Hockey column, I've noticed how many people out there are googling for chocolate hockey Easter treats when I check the weblogs. Well, check out the above Chocolate Puck Bunny!! This Slapshot chocolate bunny is available at Shoppers Drug Mart for those of you out there looking for hockey themed Easter goodies.

That's all for this Playoff Time Out!

Canucks/Blackhawks Game Three: A Little Mayhem at the Madhouse

Canucks 3 Blackhawks 2

Canucks lead the series 3-0

By Lisa Ovens

It's not often I dream about hockey. After all the hockey I have consumed and digested over the years, I could probably count on one hand how many times hockey has shown up in my nightly dreams. So Marion Hossa was in my dream Saturday night. Why Hossa, I do not know. We were at a skating practice session waiting for our turn on the ice. He was sitting beside me and he was cold. He said "It's cold in here. I am cold". I remember going through my things trying to find something to give him to warm him up. He took my jacket and put half of it over his legs and them motioned like he would share the rest of the jacket with my legs, yet I knew this would not work. Snuggling with Hossa? Next thing I remember we were skating on a speed skating oval with about fifty other people. That was the hockey related portion of my dream.

Who knows why I had the dream and what it means. But now that the Blackhawks are down three games in this series with the Canucks, cold is one suitable description to apply to the Blackhawks. Now...why can't I have a Canuck related dream?? Guess I don't need to because my hometeam has been so hot in my waking world!!!

Once again, the word composure must be used. The Canucks didn't strike first, got into penalty trouble, they had to kill a five on three, Raffe Torres gave Hockey Operations some food for thought with his big "murky" hit on Brent Seabrook, yet they managed to stay glued together and win the game 3-2.

The big question now is...can the Vancouver Canucks put a finish on the defending Stanley Cup Champs season with a fourth win on Tuesday? And will the league respond to Torres? At least we know the Canucks did just fine without him in the line up through the first two games.

And finally, what will my dreams tell me tonight?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Game Two, Blackhawks Still Seeing Blue

Canucks 4 Blackhawks 3

Canucks lead the series 2-0

By Lisa Ovens

Who is Ben Smith? He’s one Blackhawk player that helped lift the Blackhawks right back into Game Two on Friday night. But it wasn’t quite enough. Once again the Canucks overpowered the Hawks through the first and third periods, throwing big hits, winning foot races, and most of all remaining composed each time the Hawks gained some ground on the scoreboard. The second period and Luongo…not so much.

But for Canuck fans, this was a good enough win, because we’ve lost these game twos in the past two playoff series. It's nice to kick the habit.

85 Hits last night, so the commentators need to come up with a description other than bone crushing when describing hits. Let’s see…bone rattlers, thump rumblers, skeleton scramblers, which one do you like? “That was a thump, rumblin’ hit, Jim!” “Edler just thump rumbled him, big time.”

Now we are heading to the Mad House next for Games Three and Four. Chicago fans must be just itching to see their boys come home so they can inject them with some Windy City love, support, and lotsa noise! Looking forward, It will be interesting so see Raffe Torres return to play after serving a four game suspension. I am expecting big, playoff things out of this guy, and I sure hope he delivers.

Foe me, One not so known tradition that has come out of the Blackhawk/Canuck "annual conference"? Turning on the Team 1040 radio station and listening to the hockey pundits talk about their favourite food and restaurants in Chicago. This is a given. I always get super hungry when the Canucks are in Chicago! So, over the next few days, the fridge will be stocked with healthy snack options, just in case.

Where Have the Green Men Been?

And speaking of traditions or what qualifies as a tradition, there are Canuck fans out there that feel The Green Men are a Canuck tradition. I think I have to disagree with that one. Do any Canuck fans remember "The Clapper" ? Whatever happened to him? The Green Men will one day reside in the "Where are they now file", and for some hockey fans, the sooner that happens the better.

The lycra clad boys were noticeably absent from Games One and Two. Aparently one of them has a "lower body injury" according to a Province Newspaper interview. Also, according to their twitter feed, the subject of sky high Canuck playoff tickets came up in a tweet... "just trying to come up with the $. Tickets are crazy expensive" 

The Green Men occupy two River Rock Club seats when they are working the penalized players in the box. I can tell you how much lower bowl season seats not in the Club are: (two seats per game, one game cost listed) Quarter Final $350, Semi Final $420 Conference Final $475 Stanley Cup Final $700.  Now add some more onto those prices to arrive at The Club.

Yes, The Green Men and/or their sponsors require plenty of green to do what they do as they try and get inside the opposition's head.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thunderbolts and Lightning...Very, Very Frightening

by Jan Snyder

I guess we can hope that the Pens got their really stinky game out of the way early after a 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay. The Lightning came out ready and quickly jumped ahead and stayed that way.

Too bad the Pens can’t pull some power out of the Consol Energy Arena’s namesake. So far in this series, the team is 0-13 in power play chances, wasting seven opportunities in game two. The team seems tentative and unsure on the power play and badly needs to get a couple of goals to change that thinking. We also had our share of pucks that almost found their way in, but then didn’t at the last moment, thanks to Roloson. Although Orpik kept the hits coming, the defense wasn’t nearly as strong in this game as they were in the first.

Tampa was able to convert two of six chances on their power play, with Vinny and St. Louis each scoring.

Yikes, St. Louis had to undergo two root canals after the last game and that wayward stick that caught him in the mouth. He sure didn’t let those circumstances keep him down as he played well, knowing he’ll still have to endure more dental procedures.

The Pens did outhit the Bolts, 36 – 27, and they never gave up, they just couldn’t make anything work tonight. Craig Adams scored the lone Pens’ tally.

Now tied at 1-1, the series shifts to Florida and we and the team have three full days to ponder what will happen there. Maybe the bright sunshine will instill some power into the boys. A little beach time might be just what they need.

Will Fleury bounce back? Will the Pens ever score a power play goal? Will St. Louis’ dental insurance cover all the procedures?

Stay tuned for Part Three next Monday night!