Thursday, October 06, 2005


Hockey is Back!

Copied without permission from CNNSI:

"TORONTO (AP) - The first shootout in NHL history went to the Ottawa Senators .

Daniel Alfredsson scored twice in the final six minutes of regulation and once in the NHL's new tiebreaker as the Senators rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.

''It is exciting. It's nice to have a winner,'' Alfredsson said. ''Both teams battled hard for 65 minutes. I think it's right that the losing team still gets a point.''

Alfredsson tied it at 2 with 1:02 left in regulation, sending the game to overtime. After a scoreless five-minute extra period, Alfredsson scored on Ottawa's first attempt under the new shootout format.

Toronto's Jason Allison and Eric Lindros failed on their attempts against Dominik Hasek , but Dany Heatley scored on Ottawa's third chance, clinching the victory - and two points - for the Senators.

''I like the shootout. I think it's fun for everybody,'' Heatley said. ''We battled hard the last 10 minutes and Alfie came up big.''

Toronto coach Pat Quinn wasn't thrilled even though his team received one point for the loss.

''I'm not one of the ones that like the game being settled this way,'' Quinn said.

Toronto captain Mats Sundin didn't return after being struck in the face by a puck seven minutes into the first period. He left for the dressing room with a cut around his left eye, went to a local hospital and was released.

''The eyeball itself is fine. There's damage to the surrounding areas, but they weren't able to report if there is serious damage,'' Quinn said.

Sundin dropped to the ice after getting hit. He looked in obvious pain as blood poured.

''I don't know what the time frame is for him to play again. I would bet there is significant swelling,'' Quinn said.

Alfredsson tied it at 1 with 5:48 left with a shot that beat Ed Belfour from in front of the net.

After Lindros knocked down Ottawa's Mike Fisher with a check with less than four minutes left, Ottawa enforcer Chris Neil went after Lindros and received a minor penalty for cross-checking.

Lindros, playing his first game with his hometown team, received a rousing ovation. He then gave Toronto a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal with 1:31 remaining.

Hasek, 40, played his first game for Ottawa and his first for anybody since December 2003. He finished with 23 saves.

Belfour made 14 saves in the first period, including a spectacular glove save on Bryan Smolinski , and finished with 21.

Bryan McCabe 's slap shot on the power play beat Hasek to the glove side at 2:28 of the first to give Toronto a 1-0 lead.

Notes: Maple Leafs fans were given a miniature replica of the Stanley Cup. The Maple Leafs haven't won it since 1967. ... The Senators and play each seven more times this season. ... Toronto's Maple LeafsWade Belak didn't play because of a spider bite."

A spider bite! Wow! Just yesterday, while working in the garden, I had a near-skin-experience with a really really big black widow spider. See? I have so much in common with Wade. Except he actually got bit. I escaped.

So, hockey is back. I know, most everyone in the U.S. is probably going "Where was it?" or "They still play that?"

I'm kind of a finicky sports fan. I love rally racing, road racing, am lukewarm about circle track, don't especially enjoy watching thoroughbred racing, watch football once a year for the superbowl, and while I used to play basketball, and used to watch any basketball game on TV, I now despise the bling-bling wannabe rap-star BS that the NBA has allowed itself to become smeared with.

There are some interesting rules changes this year in hockey. The first is the controversial shoot-out to break a tie. I like it. Some, like Pat Quinn above, don't like the shoot-out at all.

Other rules changes are kind of nice, like the ones that really step up the calls on hooking, etc. Interfering with other players should be handled like it is in soccer. Although some people long for the Broadstreet Bullies days of hockey, I sure don't. I want to see a fast, skilled, elegant game.

The red line is gone, which means that penalties for two-line passes are, I guess, gone. Now you can have the long passes that can really tip the game quick.

Also, the enormous goalie pads are gone. There is some sort of limit for equipment size now. This is not a bad development, since some goalies looked more like sumo wrestlers than goalies.

If you ice the puck, which is a generally misunderstood thing in hockey (icing), then you don't get to change out players, but the other side does. This is critical, because shifts are short, and fresh players get a distinct advantage over ones that have been sprinting out there for minutes. This would seem to make icing the puck unpalatable, however I can see where it could still be a tactic in order to break up a strong drive. Risky, but I will be watching to see what happens.

The only game I've seen so far is Rangers vs. Flyers, and the Flyers led for most of the game, but then the Rangers came back. This was interesting, because for the first two periods of the game, the Rangers sucked. No discipline, lots of penalties, and Flyers skating around them making them look like... the Blues! The Blues were beat bad yesterday. I mourn. They don't look good.

The Leafs don't look good this season either. I mourn this too. Blues, Leafs, and Ducks are the teams I generally follow. I have low expectations this year, but I'm happy that the one sport that I both like and can actually get on TV (just try to find good rally coverage) is back!

And, another reason to celebrate. Outdoor Life Network has got the NHL contract. This means that my least favorite announcer in the history of announcing - the greasy self-absorbed hoky hockey huckster Barry Melrose, will no longer annoy me! yay!

Check out The Jester's Quart, a great column about hockey announcers that ran some time ago.

"I like Melrose like most of America likes Simon Cowell on "American Idol." He’s such a puffed-up dolt, and when any words leave his mouth, you know they’re going to be provocative. Well, provocative in the way the Iraqi information minister was provocative: someone who is full of sh-t, but who is absolutely captivating.

The other problem with Melrose is that he’s just waaaaaaaay too laid back. A friend of mine observed the Barry might have ingested a few icy pints the other night during ESPN’s first-round coverage. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I did notice Melrose stop in the middle of a rant about the Wild beating the Avalanche, count to four, and begin the rant again. No, that wasn’t a joke."

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