Friday, January 16, 2009

Mad Hatters Defeat Rock Hoppers 5-2

On Thursday January 15th the Danbury Mad Hatters took on the Jersey Rockhoppers at the Danbury Ice Arena in front of over 600 fans.

            The Hatters got scoring winger Drew Madeiros back from injury and he had an immediate impact as the Hatters attempt to catch the Rockhoppers and Aces in the standings.

            Stephen Schofield got the scoring going for the Hatters scored on the powerplay from Igor Karlov and Hank Carisio, both of whom had three points. Drew Madeiros made it 2-0, scoring his third goal of the year.

            The second period saw Danbury extend its lead to three when Dan Hickman scored his 8th of the season on the power play. Karlov and Carisio both got assists again.

            However the Rockhoppers were not going down easy. Logan Bittle took advantage of a power play to cut the deficit to two. Just over a minute later Matt Tyree scored and cut the deficit to one. The Hatters were able to get out of the period with a 3-2 lead.

            The third period saw plenty of physicality as Matt Cosmos and Rich Jondo dropped the gloves. The Hatters dominated on the scoreboard as Hank Carisio and Drew Madeiros extended the lead to a final score of 5-2.

            Nick Niedert stopped 25 of 30 shots while Derek MacIntyre stopped31 of 33 shots for the Hatters. Hank Carisio was the first star of the game with Igor Karlov receiving the second and Dan Hickman the third.

            The next Mad Hatters home game is next Friday night as they host the Hudson Valley Bears at 7:30 PM. Tickets are available at www.madhattershockey.com or at the Danbury Ice Arena box office. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Hockey Writers

This site keeps on bringing me good things. 

I was offered and have decided to join a new site of hockey writers called The Hockey Writers, a new site being made that will have people writing about all 30 NHL teams and anything else that relates to hockey from international hockey to minors and juniors. I will be posting about the Coyotes and Mad Hatters. I will still be putting things here but this is just another site that you can go to for hockey news. The head of the site is gathering the best writers he can find to give news and opinions about their teams
I just want to thank everyone who has come here and read my blabberings and opinions about my teams. I started this over the summer because I had alot of free time and now it is really taking me places. Spread the word about this new site as much as you did for this one.


Here is my first post

I will place the main link in the list to the right. 



Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Its That Time of Year

It is the middle of January. The All Star Break is about a week away and NHL teams are taking a look at their performance thus far. 
However many things are going on as the All Star Break approaches. Teams are not only looking where they have been but also where they need to go to get into the playoffs. PLAYOFFS?
The trade deadline is March 4th and teams will be looking to see if they will be buyers or sellers. What about the Rangers and Coyotes?
The Rangers will almost surely be buyers. Yes they have very little cap space but Glen Sather knows this team needs just that little something to bring the Blueshirts to the next level. After missing out on Mats Sundin, Sather will surely be looking to get someone else to bolster an offense which has sputtered throughout the season. Look for the Rangers to go after a scoring winger.
As for the Coyotes, it is tough to tell. As of right now, they are in the playoffs and are playing well. However, offense for them is a problem as they have only scored three goals in their last 4 games. Of course, financial problems will make it tough for Don Maloney to bring anyone in without giving up the same amount of salary while trading away young players and draft picks is certainly out of the question as the team is continuing to bolster their farm system that lost some names as Kyle Turris, Mikkel Boedker, and Viktor Tikhonov made it to the pros. 
However, this team will not sell at this deadline unless something cataclysmic happens between now and then. Whether they buy is up to the NHL at this point since they are in charge.
What players will be available at the deadline? Certainly players like Mike Comrie, Doug Weight, Keith Tkachuk, Martin St. Louis, Gary Roberts, and Martin Gerber will all be named considering their clubs are doing poorly this year. Is a blockbuster trade going to happen? Odds affirm that in the negative but you never know what is going to happen. Rumors about players such as Jason Spezza have been abound with teams interested in his services. 
As for tonight, points are beginning to become important. The New York Rangers are coming off a shutout win over the Ottawa Senators and are in the third game of a 5 game road trip. Whether you want to call this a road game is up to you as they travel the Nassau Colisseum to take on the Islanders.
Are the Islanders struggling? Yes. They are leading the John Tavares sweepstakes. However, anyone who has paid attention to this rivalry over the years, season records do not matter. The Islanders always come out hard and fast against the Rangers being a huge rivalry game. Is this a trap game? Absolutely. The Rangers cannot be looking to tougher road opponents. They need to focus on tonight's game and what they have to do to be successful. 
Broadway Blue finishes out their road trip in Chicago on Friday and then in Pittsburgh on Sunday. They head into the All Star Break by coming home to play the Anaheim Ducks.
The Coyotes begin a tough road trip of their own tonight as they visit the Minnesota Wild. While they did snap their losing streak to the Wild in the last game they played, the Coyotes cannot let that get to their heads. This is one of the teams they will be battling with the entire year for playoff position and this is the last head to head matchup of the season. 
The Coyotes road trip takes them on a Northwest Division swing as they visit Minnesota, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. They come home to play the Red Wings before heading into the All Star Break. 

Monday, January 12, 2009

Keep on Piling it On

Scott Burnside of ESPN is reporting that the Coyotes have lost 25% of their revenue sharing pot due to the fact they have not met certain quotas. Read the article here
It seems to just keep on piling up for the organization as financial difficulties that the team is experiencing are coming out what seems like everyday now. What is actually true and what is fabricated is unknown to many people except those within the Coyote organization who are maintaining a status quo attitude and giving very little for fans to go on.
It has been reported that the Coyotes are getting aid from the NHL and have to consult with the league on any financial decisions that they want to make. They are estimated to be losing around $30 million for this season despite the fact they have sold more tickets right now than they did at this point last year. 
What is going to happen? At this point the only thing Coyote fans can do is sit and wait for the brass to come out and state what is wrong with the team. Unfortunately, I feel like they are waiting until rock bottom before they do this. 
Is it the end of Coyotes hockey? Lets hope not. 

Injury Bug Hits Coyotes

The Phoenix Coyotes took a blow as it was announced Kurt Sauer will be out for 4 weeks with a lower body injury. Read the team release here. It looks like Keith Yandle and David Hale will be playing full time for the next couple of weeks. Hopefully the Coyotes can weather the storm and get by without Sauer who has done very well in his first year in Phoenix. 
Other Coyotes news, Garth Murray has been placed on waivers. 

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hatters Hang On to Defeat Aces 6-5 in Overtime

Another thriller at the Danbury Ice Arena ensued as the Hatters hosted the Brooklyn Aces in a battle of two teams that already have a history in the first EPHL season.

            Danbury started the scoring off when Erik Kent put the puck past Aces goalie Eddie Neville. A short time later, the Hatters took advantage of a power play as Igor Karlov took a pass from Duane Whitehead and put it by Neville as the Hatters finished the first period up 2-0.

            The second period saw a shootout as Brooklyn came within a goal as Eric Frank and CJ Tozzo scored goals just over a minute a part. Danbury answered with Hank Carisio and Igor Karlov scoring for the Hatters quickly to give them a three goal lead. Mike Thomson got Brooklyn back within two with less than two minutes to go.

            The third period saw the best of Brooklyn as they stormed back to tie the game late in the period. Kyle McCullough and CJ Frank scored power play goals to tie the game up at 5. For the second time, the Aces and the Hatters were heading for overtime.

            In the last meeting, the Aces defeated the Hatters in a shootout. However, the Hatters were not going to let the game get that far. With a power play in the extra frame the Hatters sealed the win. Dan Hickman sent a pass to the half boards to Whitehead who ripped a one timer past Eddie Neville on the short side causing the crowd of 1,202 Hatters fans to explode in celebration.

            Eddie Neville stopped 31 of 37 shots while last week’s EPHL goaltender of the week Derek MacIntyre stopped 28 of 33 Aces shots. The Hatters bring their record above .500 for the first time.

            They get right back in action on Saturday January 10th in Jersey to take on the Rockhoppers.

            The next Hatters home game is Thursday January 15th as the Hatters host the Jersey Rockhoppers at 7pm at the Danbury Ice Arena. Tickets are available on www.madhattershockey.com and at the Danbury Ice Arena box office. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New York Rangers at the Halfway Mark


The New York Rangers have had a very interesting year to say the least.
Starting in Prague, the Rangers won both games in Europe before coming back stateside and winning their first three. They started the year off incredibly, playing solid defense and getting outstanding goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist. Brandon Dubinsky and Aaron Voros led the way offensively in the first part of the season.
However, things did not last as the Rangers fell back to Earth and were having a tough time against teams they should have easily beaten, chalked up to lack of scoring, poor defensive play and leaving goaltenders Lundqvist and Stephen Valiquette out to dry as they faced an onslaught of chances. 
There was worry that teams with games in hand would surely catch up to the Rangers very quickly if they continued to play like this.
However, a bit of luck occurred as teams had some rough starts too. But they are coming on now.
Nikolai Zherdev leads the team in points with 35 (12-23) while Markus Naslund leads the team in goals with 14. The new comers are chipping in, for the most part. Fans have gotten on players like Wade Redden and Dmitri Kalinin for poor and uninspired defensive play. 
One person who has gotten on the good side of Ranger fans in recent games has been Michal Rozsival, whose head was being called for during the beginning of the season by Garden Faithful. He leads all Ranger defensemen in scoring with 20 points. The Rangers will need him to continue that if they want to succeed and that includes using that shot of his on the powerplay.
Speaking of which, the Ranger powerplay has been nothing but abysmal. For anyone who has watched the Rangers the past 15 years or so, you know the powerplay has always been a problem with low scoring. However, this year it has hurt more because of the 12 shorthanded goals allowed, the most in the NHL. That has to stop. The powerplay needs to get better. Enough said.
Another bright spot is with Marc Staal, who is turning into one of the best shutdown defenseman in the league right before our eyes. He has been matched up against Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and other stars in the league and has done well. If he can get his offense going, who knows what the limits are for this young man. 
The Rangers sit 4th in the conference going into tonight's game against Les Habitants. What do the Rangers need to win this game and more to get into the playoffs? A coupe of things.
Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, and Brandon Dubinsky have to get off of their slides. The top three centers for the Rangers have been snakebitten all year. Dubinsky hasn't scored a goal in a very long time while Gomez and Drury need to be offensive leaders on this team, especially Gomez. Nikolai Zherdev needs to become more consistent and be the player that his skills warrant. Markus Naslund has been the goal scorer and will have to continue that.
The powerplay has to improve. I'm done talking about this issue.
For the love of all that is holy Renney, play Petr Prucha the rest of the year. All the kid has been doing is creating chances and putting up points. He plays hard every shift and draws penalties (whether or not Ranger fans want that is another story). Play the kid the rest of the year and one other thing. PICK A SET OF LINES AND KEEP THEM! The only coach who changes his lines more is Wayne Gretzky. 
On the management side of things, the Rangers need to be looking around for a goal scorer and a physical defenseman. Yes Marc Staal and Paul Mara have been hitters all year but the Rangers need someone who can clear the crease in front of Lundqvist and be an intimidating force when opposing teams cross the blue line. 
A goal scorer may be hard to come by but there are players out there who fit the bill. No you don't need someone like Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Gaborik, or any other big name. Someone like Erik Cole or Antoine Vermette would be absolutely fine. Their values are at all time lows. Make calls Slats.
I'm not even going to predict where the Rangers will end up at the end of the year. They just need to take it one game at a time and get back to that level of play from the beginning of the year. 
Can they do it? Sure they can, but everyone has to chip in. 

Image found here via Google Image search.  

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Phoenix Coyotes at the Halfway Mark


First of all, I hope everyone had a very Happy New Year. Looking forward to a better year in 2009.
Teams are approaching the halfway point of their seasons this upcoming week and mid-season grades will be out from almost every media outlet that covers hockey. Lets take a look at the Phoenix Coyotes.
At the beginning of the season, anyone looking at the Coyotes roster would never have believed they would be in the position they are today myself included. 
They boasted a very young core up front with rookies such as Kyle Turris, Mikkel Boedker, Viktor Tikhonov, and Kevin Porter who were all expected to be sources of offense for the Coyotes along with other young forward Enver Lisin who is in his first full season. Sophomores Peter Mueller and Martin Hanzal were going to be looked to improve on the offensive outputs of their rookie seasons. Throw in veterans Shane Doan, Steven Reinprecht, and new comer Olli Jokinen and this was a team relying on young players contributing early. 
The defense was seen as a weakness as Nick Boynton and Keith Ballard had departed to Florida. Ed Jovanovski and Derek Morris led a group of defensemen who had no big names with Kurt Sauer, Zbynek Michalek, Keith Yandle, and David Hale. 
Ilya Bryzgalov was starting his first full year as a starter with veteran Mikael Tellqvist behind him. 
However, this team finds itself tied with the Anaheim Ducks tied for 6th in the conference with 43 points. How has this happened? A couple of things have gone right.
Captain Shane Doan is improving on his career year last year and is looking to be a point per game player this year. He has 38 points in 39 games so far this year and is on pace for 79 points. Probably the most underrated captain in the NHL, he is leading the Coyotes to a playoff birth and leading by example with hard play every night. 
Zbynek Michalek has come out and is the most underrated defenseman in the NHL. He leads the league in blocked shots and has quietly become a reliable part of the shutdown pairing for the Coyotes along with Kurt Sauer. Having him step up this season is a huge asset to an organization starved for young defensemen. 
Also on the defensive side of things, Martin Hanzal has shown he has more than offensive abilities. He has scored this year but it is the big man's defensive play that has earned him respect from head coach Wayne Gretzky. Being in a division with powerful centers like Joe Thornton, Ryan Getzlaf, Anze Kopitar, and others, the Coyotes had brought in Olli Jokinen to deal with them. However, Hanzal has shown he can hang with them and shut them down. His 20 points isn't exactly what the Coyotes wanted from him at this point offensively but he is making up for it with his great two way play.
One more player on the offensive side of the puck has been Enver Lisin. The kid's speed is unbelievable but he can also make plays. Speed is an asset but it is only useful when it can be combined with skill and Lisin has certainly done that this year. His 12 points have come at critical times for the Coyotes and he will be relied on to score more. Being on a line with Olli Jokinen and Mikkel Boedker will play to his speedy game. 
A couple of surprise acquisitions such as Ken Klee and Joakim Lindstrom have given the Coyotes more experience and depth to get through the long grueling NHL season.  
Have all things gone right? Of course not. Ilya Bryzgalov had a rough start to the year, Peter Mueller has been snake bitten lately, and financial troubles cloud the team's future in Glendale. Ed Jovanovski, called the most overpaid player in the NHL by The Hockey News, has not been the offensive defenseman the Coyotes need him to be. Not to mention the fact he has been abysmal on the defensive side as well. 
But it is a new year and these players will be looking to get things going. Jovanovski has gone back to the physical game that got him his nickname "Jovocop". Kyle Turris was predicted by some to be in the running for the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year. I am sure he would love to get in that race. Bryzgalov has started to find his form as well. 
The Coyotes schedule is a tough one. Starting with their division, quite possibly the best in the NHL, they still have a tough time ahead. The Sharks, and Ducks are always tough teams. Despite a bad start, the Stars have come alive and never make it easy for opponents while the LA Kings are always looking to make an upset happen. Throw in the Red Wings, Blackhawks, Canucks, Flames, and more and you have a very tough schedule. Oh yea, the Bruins are in there too. 
What do the Coyotes need to do? They can't worry about what the score is. If they want to make the playoffs, either the young players are going to have to explode offensively or the team will have to out work their opponents and be physical. I am of the belief that they will need to do the second option because as much as I would love for players like Turris, Boedker, and Lisin to explode offensively, Gretzky and the Coyotes cannot rely on that. 
They need veterans like Doan, Jokinen, Reinprecht, Jovanovski, and Morris to step it up along with Peter Mueller. Role players such as Lindstrom, Klee, Fedoruk, and Winnik will not necessarily be offensive dynamos but need to have solid two way games and create energy for the team. Mikael Tellqvist has been solid thus far and will need to continue that in his spot starts throughout the year. 
Will the Coyotes make the playoffs? It is still too early to tell but they are on the right path. This is the most promising team that the Coyotes have had in a very long time. Stanley Cup to the desert this year? Probably not but a playoff birth is certainly not out of the question. 

Image found here via Google Image search.