Archive for January, 2013

Coach’s Corner Rewind: January 26, 2013

As part of the historic 60th season of Hockey Night in Canada, Ron MacLean and Don Cherry are going to be doing “Coach’s Corner” live from each of the seven Canadian cities with an NHL franchise. Last night, Ron and Grapes were in Calgary covering Round One of the Battle of Alberta, and the biggest question of the night to be answered was, “What’s Don gonna say about the Nail Yakupov goal celebration?” Well, here’s the answer:

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Nail Yakupov Channels Theo Fleury in Clutch Goal Celebration

The date: April 24, 1991. Location: Northlands Coliseum (now Rexall Place), Edmonton. It was Game 6 of the Smythe Division Semifinal between the 2-seed Calgary Flames and the 3-seed Edmonton Oilers. With the game tied at 1 in overtime. third-year Flames right winger Theo Fleury delivered one of the most famous goal celebrations in hockey history to force a seventh game back in Calgary. It was one of those moments Oiler fans would like to forget.

Fast forward 22 years later to last night: same building, different opponent. Trailing 1-0 against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins thought he tied the game, but the goal was disallowed due to Sam Gagner being in the crease to cause incidental contact with Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. Oiler fans started to pelt the ice with trash in protest to the goal being wiped away. 55 seconds later, this happened.

And to think about it, legendary Canadian play-by-play announcer Chris Cuthbert was on the call for both of these goals! When asked  about Yakupov’s goal celebration on Twitter by TSN’s Dan O’Toole, Fleury responded with this tweet:

It was the best 3rd game goal celebration I’ve ever seen.

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Off the Ice: Mike “Doc” Emrick to call 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Over the summer, I talked about how hockey fans in the United States got their “hockey fix” during the Olympics by listening to NHL on NBC play-by-play announcer Mike “Doc” Emrick call water polo matches. Well, during the NHL lockout, the “voice of hockey” had a lot of time on his hands. Besides calling the occasional college hockey game for NBC Sports Network, Doc did something different in October. He called the 2012 Hilton HHonors Skate America, an ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating event, for NBC. Here’s a sample of Doc calling the free dance of 2010 Olympic Silver Medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White:

Well, since the Pro Bowl is gonna be held on January 27, and there’s no NHL on NBC Game of the Week that week, Doc will call the 2013 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships alongside Scott Hamilton, Sandra Bezic, and Tracy Wilson live on NBC that weekend from the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska. There’s no waffleboarding in figure skating, but there is careening in a triple axel or a driiiive on a quad toe loop. Hey, it’s not like the worlds of hockey and figure skating come crashing together constantly. Look: in Canada the show “Battle of the Blades” was once a big primetime hit, and Barb Underhill also teaches hockey players to skate better. Still, on that weekend, you just might see how versatile Doc Emrick’s voice is outside of the hockey rink.

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Coach’s Corner Rewind: Opening Night 2013

The 2012-13 NHL season marks the historic 60th season for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, and for 31 of those seasons, “Coach’s Corner” with Don Cherry has been synonymous with the first intermission of the first game of a Saturday night doubleheader on hockey’s grandest showcase. Here now is the first installment of “Coach’s Corner” for the 2012-13 NHL season.

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2012-13 Pacific Division Preview

The final part of my 2012-2013 NHL season preview examines what I think will happen in the Pacific Division:

Anaheim Ducks

Key Additions: Sheldon Souray, Bryan Allen, Dan Winnik, Brad Staubitz

Key Losses: George Parros, Sheldon Brookbank, J-F Jacques

This could be the last ride in Anaheim for Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf, and Bobby Ryan, because all of them become unresricted free agents at the end of the season. Can Bruce Boudreau, in his first full season as bench boss of the Ducks, bring the success be made in Washington out here to the west coast?

Prediction: Fourth

Dallas Stars

Key Additions: Jaromir Jagr, Ray Whitney, Derek Roy, Aaron Rome

Key Losses: Mike Ribeiro, Steve Ott, Sheldon Souray, Adam Burish, Adam Pardy

The magic words in the offseason for the Dallas Stars was “veteran experience” and the Stars got some veteran experience in two 40-somethings in Jaromir Jagr AND Ray Whitney. Unfortunately, I just don’t think there’s enough gas in the tank for both Jagr and Whitney to give the Stars a chance to make it to the playoffs.

Prediction: Fourth

Los Angeles Kings

Key Addition: Anthony Stewart

Key Loss: Kevim Westgarth

I admit it: I did see the potential for the Kings to make it to the Playoffs, but I, like many others, didn’t give them their due not just to go deep in the playoffs, but to win the Stanley Cup. Even though the Kings traded Kevin Westgarth for Anthony Stewart (most likely to be near family [father-in-law is NFL on CBS studio analyst Bill Cowher]), the Kings improved by just a little bit. The Kings are not just the team to beat in the Western Conference, they’re the team to beat in the entire league. I honestly believe the Kings have a legitimate shot at repeating as Stanley Cup Champions this year.

Prediction: Pacific Division Champions

Phoenix Coyotes

Key Additions: Zbynek Michalek, David Moss, Steve Sullivan, Nick Johnson

Key Losses: Ray Whitney, Adrian Aucoin, Michal Rozsival

The Coyotes surprised a lot of folks last season, especially with the emergence of goaltender Mike Smith. But if the Coyotes have a chance on repeating success, Smith needs to repeat what he did last year this year.

Prediction: Second

San Jose Sharks

Key Additions: Brad Stuart, Adam Burish

Key Losses: Torrey Mitchell, Dan Winnik

The window for a championship is starting to shrink in San Jose. After making back-to-back appearances in the Western Conference Finals in 2010 and 2011, the Sharks lost to the Blues in 5 games in the first round last year. This year, the Sharks brought back Brad Stuart and brought in “superpest” Adam Burish to bring Energy to the Sharks, but I don’t know if that’ll be enough to put San Jose in a playoff spot this year.

Prediction: Third

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2012-13 Northwest Division Preview

Here’s my predictions on the Northwest Division for this season:

Calgary Flames

Key Additions: Jiri Hudler, Dennis Wideman

Key Losses: Olli Jokinen

The Flames did bolster both offensively and defensively when they signed Jiri Hudler and traded for Dennis Wideman, but it is gonna be tough in a shortened season, especially when you have a first-year head coach in Bob Hartley.

Prediction: Fifth

Colorado Avalanche

Key Additions: P.A. Parenteau, John Mitchell, Greg Zanon

Key Losses: Jay McClement, Peter Mueller

The Avalanche now have the youngest captain in the NHL, 2012 Calder Trophy winner Gabriel Landeskog. But success does not come usually in the first year of a captaincy. Look at Crosby in 2006-07. Look at Toews in 2008-09.

Prediction: Fourth

Edmonton Oilers

Key Additions: Justin Schultz

Key Losses: None

It is Year 3 of the Oilers rebuilding process, and with what I saw in Oklahoma City, I truly believe the Oilers will be the biggest surprise this season. For one thing, Justin Schultz could be a potential Calder Trophy finalist. And you could see the Oilers’ last three number-one picks (Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov) all on the SAME LINE! For the first time in a long time, I’m gonna say the Oilers are NOT gonna end up last in the Northwest Division this season.

Prediction: Third

Minnesota Wild

Key Additions: Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Torrey Mitchell, Zenon Konopka

Key Losses: Nick Johnson, Guillaume Latandresse

The Wild went balls-out big and signed their franchise forward (Parise) and their franchise defenseman (Suter). I truly believe they’ll do something that hasn’t been done since the 2007-08 season: win the Northwest Division.

Prediction: Northwest Division Champions

Vancouver Canucks

Key Addition: Jason Garrison

Key Losses: Sami Pahlsson, Sami Salo, Aaron Rome

For the second  straight year, the Vancouver Canucks won the Presidents’ Trophy. But it really didn’t mean that much as they were upended in the first round in 5 games by the eventual Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings. Yes, they did get Jason Garrison to fill in Sami Salo’s shoes. However, this team has a two-headed Cerebrus called Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider between the pipes and will be a very big distraction all season long for the the Canucks, should Luongo stay in Vancouver this season.

Prediction: Second

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2012-13 Central Division Preview

Here’s my predictions on the Central Division for this season:

Chicago Blackhawks

Key Additions: Michal Rozsival, Sheldon Brookbank

Key Losses: Andrew Brunette, Sean O’Donnell, Sami Lepisto

Last season, the Blackhawks were just caught trying to play catch-up in a tough division. Not much as changed, but most of the key pieces that were injured (Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Dan Carcillo) are all back and are back to full strength. Most importantly, this is a make-or-break season for forward Patrick Kane and goaltender Corey Crawford. If Kane or Crawford do not live up to expectations, they could be trade bait once the season is over.

Prediction: Central Division Champions

Columbus Blue Jackets

Key Additions: Adrian Aucoin, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Sergei Bobrovsky, Nick Foligno

Key Loss: Rick Nash

The Jackets are now in rebuilding mode after trading away their best player, Rick Nash, to the New York Rangers. The Jackets have nothing to prove this year, so it’s best to leave it at that.

Prediction: Fifh

Detroit Red Wings

Key Additions: Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tootoo, Carlo Coliacovo, Jonas Gustavsson

Key Losses: Nick Lidstrom, Jiri Hudler, Brad Stuart, Tomas Holmstrom

What was once the mighty and unstoppable Red Wings now looks like the Michigan Central Depot: grandeur with a big ol’ question mark located in the front. No one can replace a Lidstrom or a Holmstrom, but even if you have a Datsyuk or a Zetterberg or a Kronwall or a Howard powering an Original Six team, I just don’t know if the Red Wings will be the team like they once were this year.

Prediction: Third

Nashville Predators

Key Additions: Scott Hannan, Chris Mason

Key Losses: Ryan Suter, Alex Radulov, Jordin Tootoo

The Predators had a big scare this offseason. They nearly lost their top-two defensemen. But they did lose a potential top scorer,  Alex Radulov, to the KHL. Luckily, Preds captain Shea Weber and franchise goalie Pekka Rinne signed themselves to long-term deals to stay in Nashville. Unfortunately, without Ryan Suter by Weber’s side, the Preds are not gonna be that defensively strong as they were last season.

Prediction: Fourth

St. Louis Blues

Key Additions: Wade Redden, Jeff Woywitka, Andrew Murray

Key Losses: B.J. Crombeen, Carlo Coliacovo

Like I said last year, the Blues were the Western Conference’s dark horse. They proved to be one of the best teams in the Western Conference, finishing second behind Vancouver. This season, they now have to live up to expectations, and prove to the world again that they’re still the team to beat in the Central Division. Not much has changed, but quite frankly, this division is a match race between the two teams separated by Interstate 55.

Prediction: Second

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