Thursday, September 18, 2014

Harding Suspended Kuemper Signed

Well as I reported earlier, Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding suffered a foot injury that would sideline him indefinitely. The Minnesota Wild have now suspended Harding for the cause of his injury being non hockey related. Other reports had said he broke his foot because of kicking a wall.

However, any goalie question marks that the team has had just hours ago about who was going to be their number one going into home opener have finally been solved. It was announced about an hour ago that Darcy Kuemper has been signed to a two year, one way contract, averaging around $1.25 million a season.

With this signing, the Wild are now able to focus, without any of the drama of who is going to be the number one goalie and, in my mind, finally solidified the position for the season, baring injury of course. All of the pieces are now in place for a very strong season, and a possible Stanley Cup run come April and May.

23 Former UND Hockey Players on NHL Training Camp Rosters

I think it's a great statement about the quality of the UND hockey program.

Toronto Star: Kessel not hot on Spott’s breakout strategy

Interesting article about former Golden Gopher and Boston Bruins forward Phil Kessel. You have talented, millionaire athletes telling coaches what they will do and not do. It's a great perspective that's not put out there a lot. Per Score: Kessel denies a rift with the Toronto coaching staff.
Dave Feschuk, Toronto Star – At least, such was the gist of an anecdote Spott shared at a coaches’ clinic at which he was a guest speaker last month, this according to interviews with three minor-hockey coaches who were in attendance.

“Spotter said that when he went to Phil (with the breakout play), Phil said, I’m not doing it,” said one of the attendees, a former professional player.

Said another: “Spott was saying (that) these are the things I’ve got to deal with now that I’ve never had to deal with. In the AHL (where Spott coached last season with the Toronto Marlies), when you’re the coach what you say goes. Whereas now that I’m here (in the NHL), I’ve got a guy telling me: No. I’m not going to do that.”

The 46-year-old Spott told the group that he made Carlyle aware of the pushback he’d received from Kessel, 26, who signed an eight-year contract extension worth about $64 million last season.

“Spott said Carlyle’s attitude was that we’re fired before (Kessel is) out of here, the hierarchy doesn’t want to deal with Phil. He scores 30 (goals) a year and that’s all they want,” said one of the attendees. “(Spott said) Phil hates coaches. He hates Randy. He hates me and I don’t even know him yet.”

More Goalie Drama with Harding Injury

Well as if the one question mark couldn't get any worse for the Minnesota Wild, Josh Harding is out indefinitely with a foot injury. Harding, the likely Wild starter, allegedly broke his foot yesterday after kicking a wall.

Now we have the problem with who fills his shoes? Kuemper is unsigned and Backstrom is only useful in a back-up role. There are a few options out there as of right now. Thomas Vokoun is healthy and ready to play and don't forget about Martin Brodeur either. Then there is the goalie who said he wanted to resign with the Wild, Ilya Bryzgalov.

It was announced earlier that Ilya Bryzgalov has been offered a Pro Tryout Contract and invited to Minnesota Wild Training Camp. This seems like the most likely option for filling the place in the absence of Harding, especially with not being able to reach an agreement with Darcy Kuemper. Bryzgalov will be suiting up for the Wild starting this Friday.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Calgary Herald: Knight ready to compete for full-time spot with Flames

Going into training camp, former UND forward Corban Knight is ready to fight for a spot on the Calgary Flames roster. It will be interesting to see how Knight does. What ever he does: one thing is for certain, Knight will have a smile on his face.
Laurence Heinen, Calgary Herald -- And the Calgary coaching staff is looking forward to seeing whether the former Okotoks Oiler can live up to his words.

“He’s got all the tools,” noted assistant coach Martin Gelinas. “He’s a good skater. He’s got a good shot. He’s a centreman that can take draws and win draws. Everything is there for him. He’s shown nice progression, so we’re excited to see him at camp.”

With a host of other players also vying to earn a coveted roster spot, Knight knows he’s going to have to be ready to compete once the players hit the ice.

“You look at the guys they’ve brought in and the guys they have returning, it’s going to be really competitive,” said Knight, who turned 24 on Sept. 10. “There’s not many spots open and there’s a lot of guys working for those spots. I think it’s good though. It’s a healthy competition where it’s going to push guys to be better. It’s definitely a good problem to have for training camp.”

Danny Kristo on the Rangers 2014 Training Camp Roster

The question is, will Danny Kristo stick with the Rangers and make the team out of training camp.  The Rangers appear to have a pretty stacked training camp roster this season.

UND Women's Hockey Season Preview

With Fan Fest just four short days away, and the unofficial opener for the women's hockey season just 10 days away, it's that time to let you know what to expect for the upcoming season with who we added, who we subtracted, player predictions, and where we stand in the rest of the WCHA.

Starting off, it's time to look at who will not be in uniform for UND this season. UND graduated two seniors last year, senior captain Michelle Karvinen, and Fargo native Kayla Berg. However, there was also one big subtraction in would have been sophomore Susanna Tapani. She had decided to give up the UND uniform and stay in Finland to compete with her national team. This hit to the offense will be very noticeable with the losses of Karvinen and Tapani, but this just gives room for someone else to take charge and fill that offensive vacancy.

There are two additions to the team this season, and one red shirt freshman to add into the picture. Red shirt sophomore transfer out of Northeastern, Jordan Hampton, was granted a medical red shirt after only playing six games with a minus three rating. She has experience with the USA U18 team, winning a silver medal at the 2012 World Championships. Her addition to the blue line should be one to keep an eye on if she is able to stay healthy. The only true freshman addition is that of Kara Tupa out of Fargo. She helped Fargo South High School complete an undefeated season in 2011-2012 and lead them to a state championship that year as well. She also earned all-state honors in 2012-2013. Finally, red-shirt freshman Nicole Novak. A native of Grand Forks, Red River High School, was named first team all-state in 2013 and second team in 2012. Was named team MVP in 2011 and 2013 for the Knightriders (combined women's high school team from Central and Red River) and recorded 60 points (24 goals, 36 assists) in her senior season there. The forward is ready to show her hometown what she can provide for the university, and I'd expect nothing more then a 100% effort every chance she gets to play.

For returning players, the team is going to be lead by their three seniors, Andrea Dalen, Josefine Jakobsen and Tori Williams. Although Williams saw limited playing time last season, she showed why she was deserving of the time she got whenever she got the chance to hit the ice. As for the two European players, Josefine Jakobsen has consistently been around that 35-40 point mark for each of her three seasons at UND. Last season she set a career high in plus minus with an amazing plus 21 ranking, putting her three year totals at an outstanding plus 50. Whenever Jakobsen is on the ice, you know the team is a threat to put the puck in the net, whether it is her, or a teammate, doing it. Finally, we have Andrea Dalen. A great team leader and a very hard worker on the ice. Has not put up the big points so far in her career at UND, but her play away from the puck is what you will mostly notice about her play. However, when Dalen gets the chance to show off her offensive skills, she will.

The Junior class holds an Olympian, a future Olympian, in my opinion, and the most consistent playing returning class to UND. Being lead by Meghan Dufault on offense, Tanja Eisenschmid on defense, and Shelby Amsley-Benzie in goal, this Junior class has a lot to offer. Dufault recently was at the Canadian U22 development camp, and was one of the best players during the intersquad scrimmages tallying three goals in two games. Eisenschmid is coming off of her first, of many, Olympic games with the German National Team. Paired with now sophomore Halli Krzyzaniak on the blue line, she has become a solid defensive machine for UND with a plus 10 rating in her sophomore campaign last season. Also don't forget about Sam Hanson and Sam LaShomb on the blue line either. Both are not afraid to step in front of shots and they have the post game ice packs and bruises to prove it. One can't forget about Becca Kohler either. Her play in the offensive zone, controlling the front of the net and the corners, is some of the best in the country. She is one player not afraid to get the dirty goals by camping right on top of the blue paint, a goalie's nightmare.

The now sophomore class was very impressive in their rookie seasons last year as well. Blue liner Gracen Hirschy was probably the most impressive of all the freshman with her outstanding two way play from the back end. Her 22 points (9 goals, 13 assists) and a plus 19 rating are something great to build off of for this upcoming season. Just think, she was a second line defender last season too. Then you had Halli Krzyzaniak, who is probably one of the best fundamental defenders in the entire WCHA, if not the NCAA. Usually square to the puck, Krzyzaniak does not leave many lanes open for their opponents to slide the puck through. On the offensive side, Amy Menkie was a forward not afraid to get to the front of the net. With that mentality, you will see her point totals continue to grow on last season's. When you talk about this class, you can't help but mention Lexie Shaw in net. With a goals against average of 1.92 in her rookie year, things look promising for this young, talented goalie. Her first collegiate win came against St. Cloud in late October, but perhaps the game everyone will remember is when she was in net for a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Gophers, snapping their 62 game winning streak.

As for where I see this team compared to the rest of the WCHA? Well, I see them in the top half, but can rank anywhere between 2nd and 4th. Minnesota is the clear favorite to win once again, but between Wisconsin, UND, and UND, I see things tightening up and becoming very competitive down the stretch run standings wise.

This season should be a fun, and competitive one, for the North Dakota Women's Hockey team. Will they make a return to the NCAA playoffs after just missing last season? Only time will tell, but I think they make the return with a vengeance.

NHL Might Not Publish Offenders Names

According to Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News, the NHL might not publish the names of the offending divers. Sounds like this is a work in progress so far. I say embarrass the divers, make their names public. Let's have a weekly report exposing the frauds that dive up and down the ice.

Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, told the Daily News via email on Friday that the NHL’s new fines for players and coaches for excessive diving will be determined after each game by video review, regardless of the call on the ice. In other words, just because a player isn’t called for embellishment in a game doesn’t mean the league can’t charge him for it later. The NHL hasn’t determined whether it will publicize its decisions, Daly said.
I am serious about this, college and professional hockey have a problem with players that embellish calls to draw a penalty. It's time to expose the fraudsthat flail all over the ice and act like soccer players. Diving cheapens the game and is a form of cheating.

English Only in the Red Wings Locker Room

Here's an interesting story about former Maine Black Bear Gustav Nyquist. Apparently, English is the only language that is allowed in the Detroit Red Wings locker room.
Dan Rosen - -- Nyquist, a Swede, figured out English is the only language players are allowed to use in the Red Wings dressing room.

"Yeah, and I learned that pretty quickly because sometimes I would ask something in Swedish and they would always answer me back in English and make sure I knew," Nyquist said. "I think it's a good rule. It's just respect for other guys. I think it's a big plus for our leadership. That's how they handle things. You learn pretty fast as a young guy what it means to be a Red Wing."

Nyquist, though, said he quickly felt at home in the Red Wings dressing room last season because he was surrounded by so many Swedes (defensemen Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson; forwards Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Daniel Alfredsson, Mikael Samuelsson, and Joakim Andersson; and goalie Jonas Gustavsson).

"It's in English only, though," he said. "When we're at the rink it's always in English. If I say something they'll be like, 'Hey, English.'"

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Central Division Preview

With most training camps about to begin, I thought it would be appropriate to preview each division in the NHL. I will highlight a little about each team in the division, highlight key players on their teams, and how I think each team will end up come April.

Lets start off by giving praise to the surprise division champs of last season, the Colorado Avalanche. Forward Matt Duchene was plagued with injury last season, and was not much help in the playoffs because of this. He now is at 100% and ready to lead this team into another division title battle. This, however, will be done without the liking of Paul Stastny due to him moving on to St. Louis this upcoming season. This young team lead by Patrick Roy behind the bench will be a tough match up for anyone in the NHL and are once again a threat to win the division once again. However, one question I have on my mind, is will Nathan MacKinnon have the sophomore slump, or will he shine like his amazing rookie season? The Avalanche open up the season October 9th in Minnesota against their heated division rival.

Moving east, we have the team that fell and went splat at the end of the season, and in the first round of the playoffs, the St. Louis Blues. With the addition of Paul Stastny, the Blues hope that all of the pieces are now in place for a legitimate Stanley Cup run. With the leadership of David Backes
and TJ Oshie, the team is looking for a rebound after a terrible end to last season. The goalie situation is also solidified as well with the net belonging to Brian Elliot. St. Louis did bring in Ryan Miller for the stretch run last season, but didn't turn out too well for them. This is one of the deepest teams on paper in the entire NHL with the likes of Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexander Steen, among many others and will post a legit threat to a division crown, if not a Stanley Cup crown. The Blues open up the season October 9th at home against the New York Rangers.

Finishing third in the standings last season, the Chicago Blackhawks are looking to make their way back to the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in the last five years. As if this team couldn't find any more offensive depth, the Blackhawks went out to sign Brad Richards during free agency. However, he is a wild card. Will he play to his full potential, or will he be the inconsistent player the New York Rangers had seen the past couple seasons? One constant will be that no matter which line is on the ice, there always will be a threat to score. Whether it is Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Andrew Shaw, I think you get the point, there are 20 players on that bench who can step up and score when called upon.
That is what makes this team one of the most dangerous teams in the entire NHL. The Blackhawks open up the season by heading to Dallas to play the Stars on October 9th.

Finishing fourth was a very young, but surprisingly talented, Minnesota Wild team. It seemed like this team played with a grit after their dreadful six game losing streak midway through the season, that solidified them as a playoff team. With the addition of Thomas Vanek, and a healthy Jason Zucker, going into this season, the Wild are on the verge of being considered one of the NHL's elite teams. It's time to earn that honor by proving it on the ice with the young talent that has earned their right to play by working their way up through the AHL system. Coach Mike Yeo has all the pieces in place, so it seems, for a very memorable year in Minnesota, but that question mark in goal could be the one thing that holds them back from a possible trip to the Cup Finals. Can Josh Harding cope with his MS medications and be able to play a full season as the number one goalie? Will Niklas Backstrom stay healthy enough to stay in a strong back-up role? Then there is young
Darcy Kuemper, who still remains as an unsigned RFA, who proved that he is NHL ready to be a number one goalie. Where does he stand? If a deal is done, does he start in Iowa, or trade one of our other goalies to give him a spot with the big club? Things in Minnesota are going to be very exciting this season, but only if that goalie question mark gets solved, and fast. The Wild open up at home October 9th against the Colorado Avalanche.

Finishing fifth, and squeaking into the Western Conference's final playoff spot last season was the Dallas Stars. Tyler Seguin was a great addition to this team last season as he, and the rest of the Stars look to become a playoff contender for many years to come. Two major off season signings this season were those of Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky, giving the Stars a little more offensive punch in this very tough Central Division. In all honesty, I have absolutely no clue on where this team will end up, or how
competitive they will be in the division, or the NHL, but I will say the Stars shouldn't be a team the league overlooks. This is a team that may once again sneak into the playoffs, and possibly play spoiler to someone's playoff hopes and dreams come April. The Stars open up at home against the Chicago Blackhawks on October 9th.

Finishing just three points behind the Dallas Stars was the Nashville Predators. The Predators are a team that always seem tough to play no matter where they are in the standings, but that could be because of Shea Weber on the blue line, who knows. Seth Jones had a decent rookie campaign last season as well, and learning from one of the best defenders to ever play in this league, could he be
Weber's next Ryan Suter like prodigy? Another thing looking good for Nashville is the addition of James Neal. While in Pittsburgh, Neal sat back to the likes of Crosby, Letang, and Malkin, but will he be the number one offensive threat in Nashville? I say yes. Playing with key veterans like Mike Fischer, Derek Roy, Mike Ribeiro, and Matt Cullen, he has the potential to find the net a lot this season. Finally, they also have a healthy Pekka Rinne. One of the top goalies in the league will likely be a strong backbone to this up and coming Nashville roster, and they will need him if they want to contend for a playoff spot come March and April. Nashville opens up the season on October 9th as well at home against the Ottawa Senators.

Last, but not least, the Winnipeg Jets. Finishing off last season with 83 points, the Jets look to become a more competitive team within the division and fight for a playoff spot. This Jets roster is one that reminds me a lot of the 2002-2003 Minnesota Wild, in that they really don't have any superstar players on it, but have the pieces to be a playoff contender if they play simple hockey and each player plays their role well. Now some may argue that Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler have that potential to break out and be that dynamic superstar that the Jets are looking for, but I don't think the pieces are there on this current roster for them to do that. I see a team that is average, to just above average at best, and fans in Winnipeg are going to be very restless when the product on the ice won't be able to keep up in the Central as well as everyone else in the division.
As for will the Jets climb out of the cellar this year? No. They didn't do anything to impress me in the off season to make me think that and with this roster, I see the team being around 80 points again this season by the time it is all said and done. The Jets open up against the team formerly known as the Winnipeg Jets, the Arizona Coyotes, on October 9th.

Early Minnesota Wild Line Combinations

On my way home from classes this morning, I was listening to Paul Allen and Michael Russo on the Nine to Noon show on KFAN for some preseason Minnesota Wild talk. Right now it looks as if Parise is playing with Granlund and Pominville, which puts Vanek down with Koivu and Coyle.

Now I know that many of us Wild rubes wanted to see Vanek with Pommer and Granny, however, according to an interview Russo did with Coach Yeo yesterday, he said that Parise playing with Granlund and Pommer was the lethal combination at practice thus far.

Russo also believes that come opening night, you will see Jared Spurgeon playing along side of Ryan Suter due to his outstanding play at the end of last season and in the playoffs. I couldn't agree more, however he has a lot of proven chemistry with Marco Scandella already, so why screw that up when it already is a pretty good combination?

                                                                                   That being said, I am not too sure if Jonas Brodin
is worthy of top line defense minutes right now. After his facial injury last season, his play really fell off and was not the dynamic defenseman pre injury. I think that his playing style should be well complementary of Scandella so I see no problem if these two start out the season together, giving Spurgeon the top line minutes he has earned.

Then you also have to address the third defensive pairing. Keith Ballard was plagued with injury for much of last season, so that was a disappointment for all you Gopher fans who follow the Wild as well. Ballard is almost a shoe in right away to be playing as a defender on that third pair, but who plays with him? As of right now, it looks as if Christian Folin will be along side him to open the 2014-2015 season, but I still say don't count out the hard hitting youngster, Matt Dumba. In his games with the Wild last season, before going back to juniors, Dumba proved that he had what it took to be a solid NHL defenseman, who holds a legit scoring threat on the blue line. However, in the one game Folin was able to suit up for Minnesota last season, he recorded an assist, his first NHL point, and was a plus three against the always tough St. Louis Blues. It will be interesting to see how the third defensive pairing plays out. Could Ballard even be the odd man out? I doubt it right now, but it is an 82 game season so lets see if he stays healthy, or is a little more present on the blue line when he is playing.

Transitioning back to the forwards, specifically lines three and four, you know almost for certain that Haula will be centering Nino on that line, but who will be the winger on the other side? Will it be Matt Cooke, or Jason Zucker? With Zucker being out most of last season with injury, he is a great unknown as to how he is going to preform this season, however, when he is healthy, he has shown us that he is deserving to play with the big club no matter what. I think you start Zucker on that third line with Haula and Nino and put Cooke down with Brodziak and Justin Fontaine. The Cooke-Brodziak-Fontaine was a line that had shown some chemistry last season, and sure, why not have a potential 20 plus goal scorer on the fourth line with Fontaine?

With training camp starting this Friday, it should be interesting to see how the lines pan out come October 9th when the Colorado Avalanche roll into town.

Time for the NHL to Embarass the Divers

s/t Pro hockey talk... I really like the idea of exposing and publically humiliating the divers in the NHL. I am all in on that idea. In fact, let's have a wall of shame and expose the frauds weekly that cheapen the game of hockey.

I have a great idea. Let's have an end of the season dishonor award for the frauds that get caught diving and embellishing the most. I would suppose the players union won't let this happen, but if you don't want to get called out and publically humiliated, stop flopping and diving all over the ice. It's really that simple.
Dan Rosen - -- The players in the session, including Ottawa Senators center Jason Spezza, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa and Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman John-Michael Liles, led an impassioned discussion on enforcing the diving/embellishment rule (Rule 64.1), [Colin] Campbell told He said the players want to distribute a list of divers around the League so it can be posted in all 30 dressing rooms and be delivered to the on-ice officials.

“They want to get [the list] out there,” Campbell said. “They want the player to be caught, whether it’s on the ice by the referee or by us on video. They are all tired of diving. The object is to make them stop eventually and, by doing that, they can get it out there around the League, embarrass them. The referees will know it, too, so the divers don’t get the benefit of the doubt.”
According to Elliott Freedman of the NHL seems to be moving away from exposing the divers and frauds. Again, diving to draw a penalty is cheating and poor sportsmanship.
The first example the NHL showed in its diving video was Tomas Plekanec’s head-snap in the Eastern Conference Final. The league wasn’t so sure about publicly naming those warned or fined, but the players pressed for it. Montreal’s centre is going to be closely watched at the start of the season

Calgary Herald: Scouts’ subterfuge played big role in Flames snaring Johnny Gaudreau at 2011 NHL draft

Interesting story about former Boston College Eagles Johnny Gaudreau. Reading the article, I am sure that you will see a few familiar names thrown out in this article. Gaudrea is one of the most prolific players to play college hockey in some time. It will be interesting to see how he does with the Calgary Flames this season.
Scott Cruickshank, Calgary Herald — They liked him. They liked him a lot.

So they wanted to avoid tipping their hand. No easy thing in a world as small as hockey’s.

To keep their degree of admiration hidden, they didn’t approach the player — not even once — leading up to the 2011 National Hockey League draft. And they took secrecy one step further by not talking to the boy’s junior coach, either.

Why? Because they knew that Peter Chiarelli, general manager of the Boston Bruins, had an ownership stake in the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints and, should they pick the brain of skipper Jim Montgomery, word of their interest could trickle back to Beantown.

But the Calgary Flames, with stealth, did their homework on Johnny Gaudreau.

Repeated viewings, of course. Also casual discussions with opposing coaches. These chats, by design, were kept lighthearted.


CBS’s expected NCHC college hockey schedule
Jan. 9 — Notre Dame at Western Michigan
Jan. 10 — Minnesota Duluth at North Dakota
Jan. 23 — Colorado College at North Dakota
Jan. 30 — North Dakota at Nebraska Omaha
Feb. 6 — Denver at Colorado College
Feb. 13 — St. Cloud State at Minnesota Duluth
Feb. 20 — North Dakota at Western Michigan
Feb. 20 — Denver at Colorado College
Feb. 27 — St. Cloud State at North Dakota
March 6 — North Dakota at Miami
March 6 — Denver at St. Cloud State

Playoff schedule NCHC semifinal game
NCHC semifinal game
NCHC championships game

Brad Schlossman has the schedule posted on his blog.

Perusing the fan message boards, it would appear that fans of other conference teams aren't too happy with the NCHC's TV schedule.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Video: Frankie Corrado Elbow on Johnny Gaudreau

First, Frankie Corrado is a bozo for his dirty elbow on Johnny Gaudreau. There's no excusing this type of hit. This is a dirty hit that needs to be eliminated from the game of hockey. Checking out his stats, Corrado is nothing more than a two-bit hack that will have a hard time cracking an NHL line up.

Chad Johnson Tweet - Wants to suit up for Habs so he can Fight Chara.

Yeah, let's think about this for a minute. I don't think that the Ocho Cinco has any idea how tough Zdeno Chara really is. Chara was ranked number one of the 10 toughest players in the NHL by the Bleacher Report in 2013.

Will the NHL Officials Enforce the New Diving Rule?

Tony Gallagher from the Province has some questions about the NHLs new diving rule. I would hope that the officials will enforce this new rule and penalize the divers.
Tony Gallagher, the Province -- Take, for instance, the changes on diving infractions. A player will now be fined $2,000 for his second infraction and $3,000 for the next one until a maximum is reached of $5,000 per dive. Getting this blight out of the game is a noble endeavour. It has become a total stain on soccer and hockey was beginning to get into that arena, at least with some players. But the cynic will clearly ask how any official can be certain a player is diving. For starters, some of these guys are great at what they do, and even in watching some of the alleged examples of diving that TSN showed to illustrate the problem, you couldn’t be dead certain something was a dive or simply a player getting his feet tangled up as he tried to turn.

And an official will have to determine this on the fly, sometimes from as far way as 50 feet or more.

MY NCHC Predictions

I posted my predictions for the NCHC season at the Hockey Writers.

League Champion (Playoffs)

Before I get accused of being a homer, hear me out. I predict the University of North Dakota will be the NCHC playoff champion. Here’s why. During his 10 seasons at UND, head coach Dave Hakstol’s teams have a (.583) winning percentage before Christmas and (.697) winning percentage after the Christmas break.  Hakstol’s teams typically peak during the second half of the season, so a playoff championship isn’t out of the question.  UND returns one of the top defensive corps in the NCHC, and also one of the top goaltenders.

I think my top three will probably go like this, as of right now. Thoughts.
1. Miami

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Weekend of Injuries for the NFL

Ouch! RGIII looks like he going to be out for a while after he dislocated his ankle. As you can see, RGIII wasn't the only one that was injured this weekend. The list keeps growing as the day evolves.

And there's more injures. Here's your week two fantasy football injury updates. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Badgers Blog: Mike Eaves believes Big Ten hockey will grow within next 10 years

Hey, the more the merrier. Right? I think it's a great idea. I think there's a lot of room for expansion in college hockey.
Jeff Potrykus, Journal Sentinel Madison – Mike Eaves believes the first season of the Big Ten men’s hockey conference was a success.

“What we saw from our students, they identified with the Penn States, the Ohio States and the Michigan States,” UW's veteran coach Eaves told the UW athletic board on Friday. “So even if they didn’t know much about hockey, they knew those schools and they would tend to come to our games.”

Eaves went on to say that he believes the Big Ten will expand from its current base of six teams sometime within the next five to 10 years.

The six teams are UW, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Minnesota and Penn State.

“I know that Indiana and Illinois have great club (programs),” Eaves said. “Northwestern has had a group get together looking at the (possibility), which makes a lot of sense because Chicago has great hockey.”

According to Eaves, former UW defenseman Chris Chelios is involved in the group studying the feasibility of adding men’s hockey at Northwestern.

NHL Bans the Spin-o-rama

The NHL has banned the spin-o-rama. I think this is actually a good rule. Thoughts. Here's what former NHL official Paul Stewart has this to say on his blog.
Paul Stewart, Hockey Buzz -- Rule 24 – Penalty Shot The 'Spin-O-Rama' move, as described in Section 24.2 of the 2013-14 NHL Rule Book, will no longer be permitted either in Penalty Shot situations or in the Shootout.

There is a longstanding rule about not a shooter being allowed to move the puck backwards in such situations. As such, there is a justification for declaring the spin-o-rama illegal in penalty shots and shootouts.

From a broader perspective, however, isn't the supposed purpose of the shootout for added entertainment value to decide regular season games in lieu of ties? There's a slippery slope here in banning a certain move.

My question is this: How many people were actually clamoring for this new rule in the first place, apart from some goaltenders and coaches of teams that scored upon on a penalty shot or shootout? I know plenty of traditionalists who argue to this day that the shootout itself should be scrapped. By comparison, what's the population of shootout enthusiasts who were pushing for a spin-o-rama ban?
From Sportsnet.CA
In shootouts, coaches no longer have to submit a list of their first three shooters. Players are also no longer able to do a "spin-o-rama" on penalty shots or in a shootout.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

NHL Rules: Stricter Penalties for Diving/Embellishment

One of the best things that I have seen all day. The NHL has decided to penalize players who dive to draw a penalty on the ice. Anyone think that the Montreal Canadiens are going see a few of their players receiving extra scrutiny. Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand might be lighter in the wallet. 

The supplementary discipline penalties associated with Rule 64.3 (Diving/Embellishment) will be revised to bring attention to and more seriously penalize players (and teams) who repeatedly dive and embellish in an attempt to draw penalties. Fines will be assessed to players and head coaches on a graduated scale outlined below.
Incident #Player Fine(s)Head Coach Fine(s)

Interesting Tweets about the NCHC TV Deal

You have to love some of the fans from the NCHC. I wonder if there's a black helicopter landing in that fan's back yard. That being said, I really like the fact that the league engages the fans in a respectful and prompt manner. You can't say that about all of the leagues in college hockey.

Minnesota Wild: Nino Niederreiter signed to a Three-Year Contract

And then there was one RFA left to sign. This is good news for the Minnesota Wild. The Wild didn't want to go into training camp with Nino Niederreiter unsigned. Nino's deal is worth 8 million dollars over 3 years. So the Wild have him signed through the 2016-17 season. That leaves Darcy Kuemper as the only unsigned restricted free agent.

Winnipeg Sun: Blake Wheeler is a leader and wants Evander Kane to join him

It interesting to see how this turns out during training camp. I suppose the fans shouldn't look too deeply into this. I would imagine that Wheeler and Kane will be "fine" during the season.
Ted Wyman, Winnipeg Sun -- Evander Kane needs to step up his game and be a leader.

Good for Wheeler. This is a player who has developed into leader himself over the last few seasons. He led the Jets in scoring last season and was the team's best player down the stretch, showing a great deal of character in the process. It would be a surprise if he’s not named an assistant captain this season.

The Jets need players who aren't afraid to speak their minds, even if they are stating the obvious, and they need players who are going to hold one another accountable. The Jets have missed the playoffs every year they've been in Winnipeg and the players should be demanding of each other if they ever hope to change that trend.
While Wheeler doesn't wear a letter, yet. Sometimes an older player on the team has to call out fellow teammates. In my opinion, that's part of the job description of a team leader. Personally, I am not so sure I would have used the print media to do this, but that's Wheeler's choice.

Kane sent out this tweet in response.

Former Boston College recruit Sonny Milano has signed a three-year entry level deal with the Blue Jackets. Milano was set to play for the Boston College Eagles this fall, but backed out of his commitment. -- Left wing Sonny Milano signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team announced Thursday.

Milano, a first-round pick (No. 16) of the Blue Jackets in the 2014 NHL Draft, will play for the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League in 2014-15. He also will be one of 25 players representing the Blue Jackets at the eight-team Traverse City Prospect Tournament, scheduled Friday through Tuesday, in Traverse City, Mich.

"Sonny Milano is a skilled, dynamic player and we're very happy to add him to the exciting group of prospects within our organization," Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. "We are looking forward to watching his development and helping him grow both on and off the ice in the years to come."

UND Hockey Tickets: Single-game hockey tickets on sale Friday, Sept. 12

For those that are wondering... You can buy your single-game tickets tomorrow.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Single-game tickets for University of North Dakota men’s and women’s hockey will go on sale on Friday, Sept. 12, beginning at 10 a.m. Central.


Nearly 800 single-game seats are available for every men’s hockey home game on the 2014-15 schedule, with additional seats available for exhibition games and holiday series when class is out of session on the UND campus. Single-game men’s hockey tickets cost $40 (adult) and $25 (youth) for Friday games and $45 (adult) and $30 (youth) for Saturday games. Exhibition games cost $25 (adult) and $10 (youth).


All single-game women’s hockey tickets cost $7 (adult) and $5 (youth).


Although men’s hockey season tickets have once again sold out, fans can add their names to the season-ticket waiting list by joining the UND Champions Club and making a refundable $100 ticket deposit. Each year in the early summer, approximately half of the accounts on the waiting list are offered season tickets.


Tickets can be purchased at the UND Box Office at Ralph Engelstad Arena or via

Battle of California: Koivu Announces Retirement

You may have seen this already, maybe not. Going against my better judgment, I probably shouldn't even link this silly article. I know it's an attempt to be funny, but as a member of the SB Nation I am not impressed, not one bit. This person is definitely not Down Goes Brown. Meh.
Jared Dobias, Battle of California -- At age 44, future hall of famer and Team Sweden Olympic Gold Medal winner Mikko Koivu announced his retirement today. Koivu was a bit of a journeyman in his 14-season career, first being drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in 2004 before playing seven seasons with the Montreal Canadiens starting in 2007, another eight seasons for the Minnesota Wild, and then coming back to finish his career with Anaheim in 2011 where he played six more seasons.
Michael Russo, wasn't impressed either. An unfunny Onion, I agree.