Tagged with "nhl"
The Curious Case of Rick Nash
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NHL New York Rangers Rick Nash Columbus BlueJackets Stanley Cup Finals

Rick Nash walked into the NHL as a first overall pick, and a superstar...He instantly became the face of the Columbus Bluejackets and a fan favorite...For most of his time there, he was the only bright spot on a struggling expansion franchise...He was a prolific goal scorer...A great passer...While not the fastest skater, his skating ability and strength overmatched many...And his stickhandling was amazing....He was a Rocket Richard Trophy winner, and an All-Star Game MVP...He also holds two Olympic Gold medals...One of those, working on the third line, and filling the role superbly...Often having the announcers talk about him being one of the best players on the ice, even though he wasn't on a scoring line...

In his first couple years, league tough guys tested the young, big, strong Nash...He held his own, to the point were he didn't get tested to drop the gloves much more...And playing under a coach like Ken Hitchcock, Nash improved his defensive game, stick checking, blocking shots, and becoming a quality penalty killer...He had become an elite, all-around power forward...

Then in 2012, a year after signing a long-term contract extension with Columbus, rumors started swirling about what moves the Jackets would need to make to get competitive...Nash's name started coming up...Nash never asked for a trade...Nash never demanded to go to a certain team...He was a team guy, and loyal to Columbus...He went to the brass and told them, "if trading me is the best thing for the organization's future, get the best deal you can."

Nash was traded to the New York Rangers along with a 3rd round pick and a minor league defenseman...The Rangers gave up fan favorite, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, top prospect, Tim Erixon, and a first round pick...Dubinsky and Anisimov were two players under contract for a few years, who would fill immediate holes...Erixon was a year or two away...And it freed up the money going to Nash for the next 8 years...It was a good move for Columbus, even though fans didn't want to see their star go...

As a Rangers fan and a Nash fan...I was thrilled...This would bring a surge to the Rangers offense, and he was able to play their defensive style as well....In New York, Nash hasn't always looked comfortable...His offensive production had become very streaky...Then he took a series of concussions...Late in the 2013 season he was knocked out with a concussion which hindered the Rangers playoff run...Then at the start of this season, Nash took another hit to the head...An illegal shot to his head, then bashing his head into the boards...This lead to Nash doing something we rarely see in sports...Nash spoke out against the union for not working with the NHL to take these hits out of the game...He called out all players for a lack of respect for each other and their livelihood...

He came back, and was streaky...But the most noticeable thing was that his drive didn't seem there...The aggressiveness in his game is gone...In so many of those highlights you see him get to another gear...He's taking the game to another level...He's putting everyone on his back, and beating two d-men and a goalie on his own...Now he's not driving to the net...He's not getting in front and mixing it up, and waiting for a rebound to roof over the goalies shoulder...

What has happened to Nash? Have the concussions taken the edge away?† Has fear of another taken it away?† Has playing in New York shaken his confidence, going from big fish in a small pound, to little fish in the big apple?† He has never looked very comfortable in New York...Has a combination of things changed his game?

In this year's playoffs, Nash is at the top of the board with shots on goal...But he's not putting them in...The Rangers are down 2 games to none to the LA Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals....This is the moment that Rick Nash has waited for, languishing in Columbus for so long...This is the moment where Nash needs to put the team on†his back...The playmaking goal scorer needs to return...

The Rangers have squeaked through the playoffs on the back of Henrik Lundqvist's great goaltending, and some timely goals coming from seemingly everyone but Nash...But I don't see them getting past this Kings team without a standout performance that superstar players are made for...Blueshirt fans everywhere are calling Rick Nash...We need you to come back if the Rangers are going to win this thing.

Oh yeah....Eye candy...

Have a week...

The Beeze.

Musings From The Hoodwood 6-3
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NBA NHL MLB

The Sporting Holy Grails of June....

Greetings from the Hoodwood, where your humble scribe is trying to get back on Eastern timeÖ

NBA: Didnít we do this last year?

Brushing aside the would be challengers in Indiana and Oklahoma City respectively the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs defended their conference crowns, the Heat for the fourth time in a row becoming the first team since the vaunted Celtics of the Mid 80ís to win four conference titles, and are trying to be the first team since the early 21st century Lakers to win 3 straight NBA titles. The Spurs are gunning for their 5th title in 15 years and further cement a legacy of winning, if not dynastic consistent championship basketball. The Heat are LeBron first and foremost to many of his detractors chagrin continues to evolve and improve his game. Rangy and versatile in a way Kobe and MJ could never be with a size and agility to play four out of five positions on the floor with a aplomb, LBJ has the basketball world professionally as his playground as long as he has a competent core of sidekicks he will win. Its hard to call DWade a sidekick but since the shooting guard has been limited by injuries as of late he has been reduced to spot duty but has carried the load nicely as a solid second option while Chris Bosh seems to enjoy not having to be the man and play an auxullary role. I liken Bosh to Aquaman on the Superfriends or Beast in X-Men you knew that they were part of the good guy crew but you never really knew what their talent is. Bosh is too thin to bang inside and to big to chase shooters, he hang around collecting the loose rebound and tossing up 17-20 footers that he really shouldnít be shooting but it works and he seems rather content getting 16 a game and collecting his paycheck and rings. The Spurs are a team that had become easy to write off. Old, boring and stodgy. I detest them because the four letter network seems to take such pains in praising them and saying that they are underrated. Hello? How the fuck can you be underrated when your team hasnít had a losing record since the beginning of Clintonís 2nd term, won 50 plus games every season in this century (including the shortened 2012 season when they won 50 on the nose) and have 5 titles in the past 15. The Spurs are a great team, they play sound basketball but are a businesslike colorless crew that are an international blend of player from their dour leader Tim Duncan from the US Virgin Islands to Manu Ginobili from Argentina and Tony Parker from France but lest we forget Patty Mills from down under Tiago Splitter from Brazil just to name a few. Maybe that why I was never a Spurs fan, the team reminds me of a Euro squad but they do play well and the sour dour Pop leading the way they win consistently. Who wins it? I see another 7 game classic and as much as I hope to be wrong, having that 7th game at home will pay off for the Spurs. The format changes back to a 2-2-1-1-1 format like the other playoff series after 30 years of a 2-3-2 but that 7th game will be in the AT&T Center and the Spurs will win a classic.

NHL: A Coast to Coast Affair worth watching

The Kings and Rangers are the last teams standing in the chase for Lord Stanleyís Cup and the NHL (and its broadcast partner in NBC) couldnít be happier. The Kings won the cup in 2012 over the Devils who were an East Coast based team but they werenít the Rangers who always for some reason or another have had the NYC hockey attention for years and years. The Islanders won 4 straight Cups in the early 80ís, The Devils have won 3 Cups since Gary Bettman famously handed the cup the a joyous Mark Messier in 1994 (my goodness has that been 20 years?) but the Rangers finally getting a chance to etch their names back on the Cup for the first time in 2 decades has made NYC delirious. Riding the hot goaltending of Henrik Lundqvuist the blue shirts keep dodging elimination games and have pulled three upsets on their way to the East crown. They face an almost mirror image in the Kings who have won three 7th games on the road in their playoff sojourn and have rode the equally hot goaltending of Jonathan Quick to win their 2nd Western Conference title in 3 years. I thought it funny that they eliminated the Blackhawks in Chicago when their fans were pretty much sure for sure that they had the game in the bag. When the OT winner rattled in behind Hawks goalie Corey Crawford, the United Center fans sat in stunned stony silence, this wasnít supposed to happen like this. But here were the Kings celebrating on their ice and I thought it amusing that like the Rangers with the Prince of Wales trophy awarded as East Champs, longtime Kings Captain Dustin Brown accepted the Clarence Campbell Bowl symbolic of the Western Conference Championship but only posed for a picture with the trophy and was careful not to touch it. As an hockey maven will tell you, to touch any team trophy short of the Stanley Cup is a jinx and the hockey gods are not to be trifled with. The Stanley Cup Finals begin tomorrow and Im anticipating a great series that should go the full 7 and be a thriller.

NBA: Sterlingís Clueless Fight

Donald Sterling just doesnít get. He is felina non grata with the NBA owners and sporting public at large. He is the perfect image of the mega rich tone deaf owner who has no clue what is going on at large but makes sure that the money he is owed gets to him and is paid in full. He will fight to the finish to keep what he believes is his. That is why Sterlingís fight against the NBA forcibly taking his team is just so head scratching. Sterling filed a $1 Billion lawsuit of his own to keep the NBA from taking his team which looked so much like sour grapes whining by a clueless individual The NBA is trying to head off any legal challenges Sterling might engage in, keep their players rank and file from starting a publicity hurting protest, and parry any claims of due process and fast tracked the $2 billion bid for the team submitted by mega rich former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who had tried to acquire the Sacramento Kings last year when the Maloof Brothers were getting out of the association. He has been properly vetted and is the type of owner the NBA likes, basketball fan who has deep pockets and is quiet. Sterling has been declared incompetent by his family trust which seems to be the key to sweeping him aside. Never before have I seen someone fight so hard NOT to get paid before.

NFL: London Calling? At the Expense of LA?

Its been on record my at times epic loathing of the Der Kommisar of Pro Football Roger Goodell, who wants to constantly bombard us with all things NFL. Make no mistake I love football and anixiously await its return in September, but I detest Thursday night games, aside from the season opener and the Thanksgiving Classics, think that the expansion of the playoff field is just plain wrong (So much so I argued the point with ESPN columnist Mike Sando to the point that we became Facebook friends. But all of that pales in comparison to the idea the Goodell is hell bent intent on forcing down our throats. A team in London. Now mind you, Im not entirely fond of games in London to begin with, why are you punishing a teams fan base by taking away a home date. I did have a proposal by making the London game a road game on both teams schedule so that no home dates are lost, but thatís another topic altogether. Goodell and most recently Falcons owner Arthur Blank keep floating the idea that the NFL could base a team in London. I am for sure that they players union would not go for that, they arenít too happy about the increased number of games (now 3) in London and that one of these games will kick off at 9:30a Eastern to accommodate the supposed British fans who want an afternoon game. I think that Brits and Eurpoeans see American Football as a curiousity and aside from the one-off game yearly and watching the Super Bowl, the European fans have no more than a passing interest in American Football. I call it American Football because what we know as soccer, is considered football in Europe and hold the passion and sway of those fans like the NFL has in American and will have more a foothold in the US than the NFL will ever have in London and Europe. But the NFL is determined to get the European fan as crazy about our version of football as they are about soccer. Guess what Rog? Its not going to happen. I watched the UEFA Champions League title game the Sunday before Memorial Day with Princess Katie as we noshed on wings at a sports bar, that game was worldwide and their fans were crazy passionate. The NFL has a firm grip here but will never get the global passion that Soccer, basketball or hockey has worldwide. Then there is the matter of the nations 2nd biggest media market which incredibly has been devoid of a pro team for 20 years. I remember when the Raiders moved back to Oakland and the Rams went to St. Louis many figured it was only a matter of time before a team came back to the city of Angels but how many new teams have come on line? Baltimore Cleveland and Houston got teams back Tennessee came on line And almost every team in the NFL has moved into are moving to new stadia in the two decades since there was last football in LA. But still the NFL has made no real move to place a team there, using the open city as a threat. The Vikings, Chargers, Cardinals, Jaguars, Bengals and Bucs have all used the threat of a move to LA to get new venues other teams have built new stadia as a preemptive strike to keep their respective teams from getting a case of wanderlust. But there has been no move to put a team there. Angelinos have been for their part ambivalent to getting a team, they know that the networks eager to get max ratings from the big media market put the best games on in this market and LA gets the enviable doubleheaders from each network every week. There might be a team to go here but the football savvy fan isnít losing sleep over it.

PHAT DAP/HEAD SLAP

Phat Dap

You know its something really good, if im giving dap to Ohio State. The entire Buckeyes baseball team all 37 members and coach Greg Beals signed up to be a potential bone marrow donor for freshman LHP Zach Farmer who is battling leukemia. The entire team to a man signed personal consent forms and had their inside cheek swabbed to get on to the bone marrow registry . Farmer was just recently diagnosed after feeling sick for a week late last month, the Bucks team captain Tim Wetzel who was already on the registry led the drive to get his teammates registered and they came through in splendid fashion. No one will ever accuse me of being a Bucks fan, but those young men are doing something for a part of their baseball family and that in itself is something to applaudÖBravo Bucks Baseball.

Head Slap

This might be considered personal but Ive got a beef and this is my forum anyway. To the supposed football expert who is trying to make the argument on a facebook forum that Tom Brady is not an elite QB and never was. Now, Im not a Pats fan (Ill leave that to Sully and Mo) I often make fun of the guttural grunts made by the Hoodie Man Belichick. But I can respect and recognized greatness. And better still consistent greatness. Now I like a good argument on sports as well as the next sports maven, but it irritates me when someone makes a blanket argument and can not or will not back it up with stats. To quote Sheedy Wallace ďBall donít lieĒ neither do cold hard stats. Al Davis said to ďJust Win BabyĒ and that is the premium factor. I looked up Bradyís numbers in comparison to other QBís and his are consistently better. This asshat is trying to make the case that not only is Brady overrated his whole career is a sham. Im sorry, was he looking at Tony Romo? (Sorry, I digress) You want some amusement, go to the Sports Central page on Facebook and watch me destroy this clownís weak arguments with intelligence.

Youíre patience with my ongoing entries are much appreciated, until next post fellow sports fans!

Q-o-t-D 6/3/14 Tags: NHL Stanley Cup Finals LA Kings NY Rangers

Stanley Cup Finals...

Who do you have?

The LA Kings or the New York Rangers?

Twenty Years
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NHL Stanley Cup Finals NYR Ryan Callahan Martin St Louis Henrik Lundqvist Twenty Years The Beeze 1994

Twenty years sounds like a long time ago.....Yet it went by in a flash...Twenty years ago Forrest Gump came out...Along with Ace Ventura, Reality Bites, Dumb & Dumber, Pulp Fiction, and The Santa Clause...

Portishead's album Dummy came out 20 years ago...So did Weezer, by Weezer, Dookie by Green Day, Under the Table and Dreaming by DMB, Pearl Jam's Vitalogy, and Jeff Buckley's Grace...

Twenty years ago O.J. Simpson was arrested for double murder...

Twenty years ago, Major League Baseball had a lockout/strike that killed any chance of an amazing Cleveland Indians versus Montreal Expos World Series...

Twenty years ago, I graduated from high school...

And the highlight of 1994...The New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup!

After suffering my first 18 years of life as a Rangers fan, I saw a winner...And lets be honest, I was seeing any winning growing up in Cleveland for a long time...It had been 54 years since the Rangers had won the Cup, so as for being a long suffering Rangers fan...I had some catching up to do...But since 1994, the Rangers haven't been back to the Stanley Cup Finals...Hell, they've barely even sniffed the Finals since then...But here we are, twenty years later, and the Rangers are going back to the Stanley Cup Finals...

The Rangers will face the LA Kings...The LA Kings and the NY Rangers...The Marketing department's dicks are so hard right now...The Kings are good...Their Goalie, Jonathan Quick can go toe-toe with Lundqvist...They skate well...They're fast...Plenty of talent all over the ice...I'll be honest...I'm nervous...I have doubts...But that's nothing new....

†I didn't have a lot of faith in this team for much of the season...Early on, they seemed to struggle with adjusting to a new coaching staff, and system...They didn't seem as tough, physically, even though it was mostly the same team as the year before...But Henrik Lundqvist can always carry the team through a rough patch...Oh, wait...The he started out slow...His game even seemed off...But it came around...Slowly other pieces came around...But the offense was often lacking...

At the trade deadline, the Rangers traded their captain, Ryan Callahan to Tampa Bay for their Captain, Martin St. Louis...I hated this trade...St. Louis was 8 years older...Not a physical presence...And seemed like a bitch demanding trade after not getting selected by his GM to be on Team Canada's Olympic hockey team...And demanding to only go to the Rangers...Yet, the Rangers overpaid, giving up a 1st and 2nd rounder, plus Callahan...

Then St. Louis went 11 games without scoring a goal...While Callahan continued to play his steady, two-way game in Tampa Bay...I HATED this trade...Then came the playoffs...St. Louis' mother suddenly passes away...He seems to be playing on another level...Multiple, huge Game changing/winning goals...The rest of the team is feeding off of it...Now we sit here, heading into the finals...Looks like a good trade now...

I still HATE it!

Yes, I'm thrilled the Rangers are playing for the Stanley Cup...But there is a part of me that feels like it's screwed up that Callahan isn't there...Along with Lundqvist, he was the face of the Rangers...He was home grown...He played Ranger hockey, the way†it's suppose to be played...But sports is a business right...Yes, yes it is...And the Rangers decided to make a move for business now, and risk some of the future...2 high draft picks and the captain, for an aging scorer who has one last push left in him...

Big picture, I still think its a bad trade...

But do I really want to wait another year or twenty?

The Beeze.

Procrastination, Beer, and Stuff
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NHL beer yardwork

You know, Iím just not even going to pretend I was paying attention to anything sports related this week, except to say that I know that the Rangers dispatched the Canadiens Ė and while I canít say I was rooting for the Rangers, as cheering for anything positive for a New York team I strictly forbidden in my religion, I do have to say I couldnít be happier the Habs will be playing golf in June.

So what did I do while I was vigorously not paying attention?

I was kind of not doing my Mondayís work.† Which is a problem because I have to go give some presentation today.† Iíve only had about a month to prepare, so Iím not entirely sure I know how itís going to go off, but I have a couple more beers left so Iím sure I can crank something out.

On Saturday, I went into Boston for the Beer Advocate Craft Beer fest, which was pretty flipping amazing.† I had two that really stood out, but I have to say that as much as I really liked them, it would definitely be in specific situations and limited quantities.†

The first was this stuff from Left Hand Brewery called ďAmbidextrous AleĒ -† what made this stuff really interesting was that it tasted like bacon in a glass.† A little on the heavy side, which is never really a problem, but it was kind of a very situational kind of beer.† They say it smells like banana bread and cocoa.† I say bacon.†

This other stuff was from a place in Maine called Hidden Cove Brewery.† This stuff was Jalapeno Apricot beer.† It wasnít overly fruity, it wasnít insanely peppery.† It had a nice hint of apricot and nice hint of jalapeno.† It would be freaking AWESOME in a Mexican place with some grilled chicken.† It would NOT be freaking awesome in front of a firepit.†

Everything else was good, by and large, but nothing really stood out the way those two did.† I went to another fest about a month or so ago, the one that stood out there was one by Shock Top Ė hardly craft beer, being owned by Anheiser Busch Ė but they have one that they brew specifically for shows (they donít even talk about it on their website).† Itís a pretzel wheat, and damned if it didnít live up to itís name.† Now, Iím no fan of Shock Top, but this stuff was good.† If you get the chance, you should definitely check it out.† Truly, the only thing that wouldíve made it better was a mustard rimmed mug with some salt on it.

Needless to say, Sunday was spent wandering the yard.† Iím probably the only guy you know who can tell you that he has to mow his street.† Yeah, thatís right.† Iím the last house on a dead end, pavement stops half way in front of my house and it just drifts off into weeds, and brush.† The neighbors dump their crap there, itís a mess.† So I pulled out the mower and went house.† It actually kind of looks good now.† Next weekend, itís a chipper, chain saw and burning crap.† THATíS when the fun will start.

So, nigh on 4 PM I realized I was beat, and I still had my presentation to put together.† So, of course I sat down to write my Gab article for the week Ė I mean, Iíve waited this long to do the presentation, I can wait a little while longer.†

Then some friends came over, so the grill came out, and the word processor got put away.† After they left, a long soak in the tub.† Man, the back was sore, and even though I had taken a shower earlier, the damn tub was nasty.† Makes you question how clean you actually get in the shower.†

Anyway, I still havenít started in on the presentation and Iím just about ready for bed.††† Or maybe Iíll watch some TV.† How tired am I?† I just wrote teavee.†

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