Fusspot rants, embarrassing photos of yourself and general correspondence go here: universalnicks@gmail.com

Wow, didn't see this coming

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

From TSN.ca: Cop cars set aflame, vandalized after Habs win

Very classy.

The wrath of Pamela Barnes Ewing

Sunday, April 20, 2008

From the Daily Gazette of Schenectady, NY -- writer Ken Schott experienced a nasty surprise courtesy of Versus:

I was watching the third period of Game 6 of the Minnesota Wild-Colorado Avalanche NHL playoff series late Saturday night on Versus when at midnight, suddenly I was watching a Victoria Principal makeup infomerical [sic].

I had to get on my computer to listen to the rest of the game.

I have the feeling someone at Time Warner Cable had a timer on, and it made the switch. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been corrected as of 12:24 a.m.

Hey, the woman hasn't worked in years -- she's got to make some cash somehow, even if it comes at the expense of the NHL. And of course, this calls for a Dallas reference or two, so here's Victoria as Pam Ewing in all of her old-school glory. I don't know what I find more disturbing in the following clip: 1) The amount of rack and ass the camera manages to shoot despite Pam wearing a turtleneck and trousers; 2) The music or 3) Bobby's jacket, which looks a lot like the one Garry Galley has been sporting for the past two seasons.

With turnover likely at a high rate for the big club, what happens in Binghamton is going to be more relevant than ever. Michael Sharp's blog is currently featuring some interesting takes from assistant GM Tim Murray on players like Josh Hennessy and Jeff Glass. Click on the link to check it out.

Credit to Pierre LeBrun for bringing up the fact that the Rangers should not be written off -- quite the opposite, actually.

P.S. Worthy of note: Hockeyschlock also pimped the Rangers on April 9th.

Worth checking out

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sorry -- I'm a bit late on this (yesterday was kinda nuts around here). Anyway, huge credit to the Citizen's James Gordon for his extensive transcripts from the exit interview media scrums. You can check them out here. (Heads up -- it's a lengthy read.)

As for Ray...I said what I needed to. I'm done. Guess what? So's he.

Sincerely, Marcus Allen -- CBS Sports

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Some of Ray's (likely) parting words -- from TSN.ca:

"Anything I saw that said, 'oh the goalie is a cancer, the goalie is a cancer to the team and the room and stuff.' I love the guys on this team. There is no guy on this team that isn't a buddy to me. If they say any different then they have been smiling to my face and talking behind my back."

From Don Brennan's Cheapseats:

"Eliminated from last night's pre-game hype was the goofy Gladiator, thank God. Word is the schtick was a brainchild of Melnyk, who had a multi-appearance deal with the bad actor that included commercials. Guess G Ray Emery's contract isn't the only one Melnyk will have to eat ..."

For the record, The Driver is still watching it. He says it makes him laugh...then he gets angry. Does anyone know a good therapist?

Just a couple of things...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I can't go into anything in depth here -- again, handcuffed by the column -- and my head is swimming because I haven't nailed down what I'll be writing about just yet. That being said, a few things:

Sorry, but I'm not ready to hand over the Cup to Pittsburgh. Their defence and goaltending specifically faced little (if any) grief, and they haven't been behind in a series yet. Their lines roll well -- there's still some chemistry to work on -- but ultimately it's going to come down to what happens from the blueline backwards. And will someone please tell them to go back to their powder blues?

Watching this franchise eat some crow after all the chest-thumping and poor decision making is going to be interesting. Most of you have figured out that the off-season's much-discussed pictorial essay was about Ray. At that time, the vitriol directed towards him from sources inside the dressing room was unbelievable. I didn't think it could get any worse...but it did. Long story short: You keep the cancer around, you're going to die...and it'll go quickly. Something must be done about this team's chemistry. I shouldn't be hearing from players how Teammate A "can't f*cking stand" Teammate B.

(Aside: E-mails that pester for names and question my decision to post anonymous information will not be returned. I do this for 99.99% of the readers who want to hear about it. If it bugs you, don't read it. Go outside and get some fresh air.)

The efforts of the youngsters (Cody Bass, Brian Lee and Nick Foligno) seem to be appreciated by the majority of fans. That being said, a couple of observations:

The media who think Foligno is destined for a top-six position on this team need to take it down a notch. It was four games. He's a top-six winger on a team where Mike Fisher would be considered a No. 1 centre. Just saying.

Brian Lee was obviously outmatched at times, but I appreciate his calm nature. However, if you don't get him into a proper defensive system with some structure, his growth will be stunted something fierce (and I'm not talking about his facial hair).

Cody Bass...is due for a t-shirt. The cynics have spoken.

I've already begun to crunch numbers for available UFAs and comparable RFAs...hoo boy. (Might get into that later...again, depending on column topic.) It's going to be a rough offseason.

More later.

Wade Redden's last touch of the puck (as a Senator) was a giveaway that led to a goal.

I think that sums it up, don't you?

I'm headed out, and will have nothing to add until after tonight's game (and even that's questionable). You can all stop hovering around here -- and that includes the Senators' employees themselves. Yes, I see you...and you seriously need to check yourselves. The biggest game of the year and you're worried about what someone might be saying about your overly fragile franchise right now? Get back to work, for God's sakes.

Break time

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Need a little levity? Go here.

And about time, too. Sometimes it seems like Jordan Staal gets lost in the shuffle. Click here for a nice piece on the hometown kid from Pierre LeBrun.

You know when a joke just keeps morphing into something even more hilarious?

Right now, imitations of the gladiator intro have slowly changed from a bad read off a shield (with a spotty mic) into a bad "Hacksaw" Hamilton bit.

Here, this'll help (you may want to turn down your speakers if you're at work)...

I'm sorry...I'm so sorry. It's like a car wreck -- you can't turn away. Who on Earth thought this was a good idea?

Here's some of the reaction from the Sportsnet forums -- all negative.

P.S. I recorded the game, and now The Driver keeps re-watching the intro like some sort of buggered-up experimental theatre. I think I may have to hide the remote before I go to bed.

Dishonourable death

Monday, April 14, 2008

Let's see what the good doctor has to say about this:

Yeah, break the guilty trammels from yesteryear
Remember how the pain of failure makes it all clear
The lowly opportunists take commanding roles
And hock ultimatums so their weakness won't show
The sad reflection of dead ambition
You live for nothing

Expectation, indoctrination
Life's a damnation -- submission complete
Dying on your feet
Submission complete
A total defeat

-- Submission Complete (BR)

(I KNEW I'd have a chance to break that out.)

Guess what? It isn't too early for seppuku jokes.

Only this team would get on the board first, then proceed to squander all momentum with giveaways, repeated penalties and a lack of skating. The Driver was already offered tickets for Game 4. Asking price? A dollar.

So, the captain was back and he couldn't save them -- how are we going to spin this one? Look at it this way: One more game, then the exodus can begin...and that will be far more interesting than what we're being forced to watch.

Crosby scores one goal, and the Sens shut it down. How do you justify that? You can't. They don't deserve to be here. They never did.

I think I speak for all Sens fans when I say: Stop wasting our bloody time, Ottawa. You're not worth it. Not this year.

I think they played The Manatee's theme song after those amazing consecutive saves towards the end of the first. If they did, I could barely hear it, and I'm watching with surround sound. There's nothing wrong with my hearing, kids. Turn up the freaking volume and blow the roof off the dump.

What the bloody hell happened to Nick Foligno? (Alfie, perhaps?) Hell of a period from the youngster. Great hustle.

Is someone trying to give me a heart attack with Stillman on the PK?

In other news, I broke out the "Keep It Out" dance for the first time. Faith restored? It's way too early to say.

Best text from the first period (re: the thundersticks):

"They all look like they're trying to park airplanes with those things."

What was up with that beginning? Painful...and embarrassing. That should never be repeated, even with working microphones. If I wanted Disney-esque theatrics, I'd buy a plane ticket to Florida.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Best pre-game text of the night from someone at SBP:

"One (expletive) thunderstick? What the (expletive) am I supposed to do with that?"

Cost-cutting due to the eventual abbreviated playoff run, perhaps? For the record, they're shaped like swords. I don't even know where to start with that -- is it too early for seppuku jokes?

Runner up text:

"It feels like the pre-season in here."


With under four hours to go until puck drop, seats of two are STILL available at SBP for tonight. Hockeyschlock was able to pull some up, and so was I.

UPDATE (4:45 pm): Tons of seats still available. Just pulled up the following: 2 seats in section 118, Row M; 4 seats in section 227, Row C and a whopping 6 seats in section 228, Row E.

As you prep for tonight's game, chew on this:

The old, brutally slow and much-maligned ex-Senator known as Bryan Smolinski has more points in the 2007-08 post-season than Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley combined.

Martha Stewart wouldn't like this one bit. From the Globe On Hockey blog:

“We're like the Queen,” the San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton was saying. “We travel with our own toilet seat.”

OK, that probably needs some explanation. The Sharks moved into the visitor's dressing room at the Pengrowth Saddledome Sunday morning, to continue their best-of-seven Western Conference playoff series against the Flames. The Sharks usually travel with all kinds of team-related paraphernalia. Draped just inside the entrance to the dressing room are replicas of their Pacific Division champion banners (from 2001-02 and 2003-04). There are personalized Shark skate mats for each player; every one of the four walls also has a This Is Sharks Playoff time posters. All make sense – sort of.

But how about that toilet seat, with a Sharks' logo pasted on the front, suspended above the soda machine in the dressing room, just beyond where goaltender Evgeni Nabokov dresses? Top-secret stuff. Team captain Patrick Marleau wouldn't divulge what was going on there. Nor would Thornton. Not even Jeremy Roenick – who'll talk about anything - would specify what its specific function was. “A little in-the-room mystery,” was how Roenick described it. Thornton added: “A lot of people will be blogging about that tonight.”

Well, of course. It's what we do to pass the time these days. Sharks' coach Ron Wilson would only go so far as that the scheme was the brainchild of Tom Holy, a member of the Sharks public relations' staff. Holy, a former college player himself, stationed himself underneath the toilet seat Sunday morning, so that no one could lift it up and see what was hidden behind it. Luckily, an intrepid scribe or two wandered in behind - and saw a poorly camouflaged picture frame - secured to the back of the seat.

P.S. That photo -- snapped by yours truly who felt oh-so-classy in doing so -- came from tonight's San Jose-Calgary broadcast where the seat was also being discussed.

We pimp our own (reprise)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

TUC's friend Steve Ladurantaye over at The Globe And Mail tackled the business of post-season puck in his column, Five Things. Check it out below.


It's spring, and many will be staring at our television sets in the hope a Canadian team will hoist the Stanley Cup. Five Things takes a look at the business of playoff hockey.



Last season's run all the way to the Stanley Cup final helped the Ottawa Senators post a $10.4-million profit, even though they lost in the end to the Anaheim Ducks. Still, the team said it needed to clear at least the second round of the playoffs to generate a profit. A National Hockey League team by most estimates gets as much as $2-million for a home playoff game from ticket sales, merchandise, parking, and concessions. But a team doesn't need to be among the league's elite to reap the benefits of the postseason – under a revenue-sharing program surviving teams must fork over half their playoff cash so it can be redistributed to bottom-feeders.



According to news reports, the Toronto Maple Leafs' habit of missing the playoffs will mean a $10-million hit to the CBC's revenue this year as viewers from southern Ontario switch to baseball. The loss of that revenue has been blamed in some circles for the network's decision to cancel a show called MVP, which was about amorous hockey wives. French-language sports channel RDS is expecting to draw up to 1.2 million viewers for each Canadiens-Bruins game in the first round, up from a regular-season average of 720,000. TSN will have coverage of the first three rounds, and Versus and NBC will once again try and woo U.S. viewers. That audience is never an easy draw – last year NBC switched from overtime in a Senators-Sabres game to pre-race coverage of the Preakness Stakes because ratings were so low.



With American viewers more interested in poker tournaments than hockey, the NHL is hoping a beefed up Internet offering will attract younger fans. The site – loaded with ads from Bud Light, Cisco, Dodge and Verizon Wireless – offers free highlights and behind-the-scenes footage. Next season, teams will be allowed to create their own content and sell ad space to sponsors. The NHL's website is the 30th most popular site in Canada, the country which accounts for 40 per cent of its visitors. Its next highest ranking is in Slovakia, where it is the 187th most popular site. It doesn't fare quite as well in the U.S., where it ranks 410th, according to Web traffic monitor Alexa.com.



The NHL is also hoping to cash in by putting ads on the glass above the boards during U.S. broadcasts of playoff games. People at the game wouldn't be bothered, since the ads will be digitally imposed and visible only to those watching on TV. Advertisers who buy regular spots during games would be offered space on the glass, and if the pilot program is successful it could be rolled out across the league next year. Dollar amounts haven't been determined but a pair of regular ads along the boards can sell for as much as $600,000 a season. The technology is in use at Major League Baseball games, with ads behind home plate.



When the regular season ends, it also means an end to regular paycheques for NHL players. Mind you, they're not playing for pride alone. An elaborate system of shares exists to ensure those who carry their teams deep into the postseason are rewarded. This year, after the Cup winner is determined, $6.5-million will be split among the 16 teams that made the playoffs. While the exact method of distribution hasn't been determined by the NHL Players Association, last year the Ducks were given 25 shares worth $75,000 each, for a total of $1,875,000. It was then left to team management to determine which players should receive how many shares, based on performances. The eight losing teams in the first round each received 200 shares, worth $5,000 each, to distribute among their players. By contrast, three players – Flyer Daniel Briere, Ranger Scott Gomez and Sabre Thomas Vanek – shared the honour of earning the most in the regular season, at $10-million each.

All efforts go towards the column. Sorry, but that's the way it's got to be.

From Scott B. in Calgary:

"Boys are getting haircuts and putting extra Drakkar Noir on
to head to the Flames game (because we all know who's going to be there)."

I laughed.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Words cannot express how ridiculous this has become. Memo to all involved: Drop it. Stop it. It's time to grow up and focus on the games.

(Ed. Note: Right now, TUC's aiming to use all the song titles from SNFU's "If You Swear, You'll Catch No Fish", despite their occasional grammatical errors. Deal with it.)

(Pictured -- Foreground: Chris Phillips/Wade Redden. Background: Gary Roberts. The second guy -- meh, I'm too tired to decide who that is.)

That's right, ladies: If you're so damned scared of Gary Roberts, you might as well scream and get it over with. At least we'd all know you were capable of showing some emotion.

It pains me to come after Phillips because I respect him as a player, but could he have looked any more like a deer in the headlights on that fourth goal? The old man was right there -- take him out, damnit! Redden has completely checked out of the game, both mentally and physically. He practically cowered in Roberts' presence on the first goal, and the coughing up of pucks in the Sens zone were enough to make your stomach turn. As for 14 -- taking an interference penalty instead of sacrificing for the hit during an icing call? Do we need to say any more? (Actually, yes...we do. Keep the freaking puck in your zone during the power play, and learn how to land a shot on net.)

And how about that comedy of errors along the end boards during the second involving Lee, McAmmond, Roberts and Laraque in various combinations? You've got 55 feebly hammering on Laraque's back, and the whole time Chris Neil is standing around doing nothing in the high slot. I guess he was prepping to go down the ice so the team could end up with 19 missed shots through two periods as opposed to 18.

That brings me to Bitch Point No. 3: Garry Galley's claim that the Sens missed many shots because the Penguins were in their shooting lanes was semi-valid, but what about this: Maybe if the club wasn't so predictable on special teams, the opposition wouldn't be able to do so? Just a thought. Strangely enough, I didn't hear anyone mention anything about whiffed shots (I saw quite a few last night), and that's been a problem for some time.

I also noticed Galley trying to explain how tired Nick Foligno must've been during the third goal (hence the reason for him gliding around, bent in half). Just for a refresher, here's what I said about Foligno when I saw him at the summer developmental camp last year:

Nick Foligno: It's obvious the kid tries hard, particularly with his skating, but he still needs a lot of work. His backwards skating was laboured, but better than some of the forwards I saw (see Zubov). Granted, that still isn't saying much. Foligno has initial bursts of speed which are impressive (10-15 seconds), but has difficulty maintaining stamina. He does carry himself with a great deal of confidence. What he's able to accomplish in Binghamton (when the time comes) will matter a great deal -- it'll mean the difference between him turning into a second-line contributor, or a third-line filler. Right now, I see the latter.

You looking for a bright spot? Here it is:

Yes, he looked like hell in the first, but those goals can't be pinned on him. He stood tall in the second (huge flipper save when Volchenkov went down), and did as much as he could to keep them in it through the third period. He's not Patrick Roy -- no one expected to be. The man can only do so much...and he can't score goals. Once again, the club let him down. I want to see him lose it on someone, just for the hell of it. He'd probably feel a lot better. Swiss seacow rage!

Volchenkov's not the only one with a bloody headache tonight. Sigh. More later.

P.S. An unrelated note, but worth mentioning: Both San Jose and Minnesota played Metallica tonight (the Sharks went with "Seek And Destroy" as they typically do when they come on the ice, and the Wild played "Breadfan" during a break, which was beyond awesome.)

From the HF Boards

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

First post in a thread entitled "When the game is lost":

When there is only a few minutes left, and nothing is going your way, and you know you have no hope in hell of winning... Shouldn't you take the opportunity to tenderize you opponent? I'm not talking about turning the game into a sequel of Slap Shot, but making a physical effort and finishing your checks hard.

I thank Gary Roberts for creating a little emotion at the end of the game.... I think we needed that...

Second post:

Or they could do this at the start of games and continue it until the end, thus creating a decent chance of winning.

Very good, Sens fan.

No post coming until late tonight -- see you tomorrow.

...because we're dedicating SNFU's "Black Cloud" to Wade Redden.

Alright, so I promised you Hockey Night in La Jolla, right? A little background: The last time The Driver and I went to San Diego, we found a skating rink plopped in the food court of an outdoor mall. There was some feebly arranged peewee hockey being played, and the goalies didn't even wear pads or masks. That being said, the parents and rest of the food court was totally into it, and I thought, "How cool is this?" I made sure to seek out the rink the next time we came down, in the hopes that I'd be able to catch some more hockey, however pathetic.

This time around it was beer league -- proper equipment, although just as brutal. I wasn't planning on staying long...that was, until I saw the guy on the left skate past (click to enlarge):

The name on the back of his jersey was "Spunt". Best. Freaking. Name. Ever. Unfortunately, the dude skated like Brian McGrattan on muscle relaxants, but somehow that made me love him even more. Maybe it was all the beach time or my slightly sunburnt forehead, but I went into puckbunny mode -- chasing back and forth with the camera attempting to get photos while Sephora and Victoria's Secret bags dangled from my wrists.

(Aside: Despite the blog, column and my false bravado, I am still a chick who cares far too much about uncomfortable underwear and overpriced makeup. This is also worth mentioning: The Driver came into VS with me, and spotted some hot pink and black lingerie on display. He pointed at it and stage whispered to me, "Hart Foundation!" I didn't know what to be more embarrassed about -- the statement itself, or the fact I knew exactly what he was talking about. )

Anyway, back to the game. We were facetiously speculating on the past of the guy in the Phantoms jersey, when all of a sudden he fell about six times in a two minute span (including backwards through the gate in a move that was reminiscent of Midori Ito). The whole thing was so atrociously bad, I couldn't have possibly enjoyed it more. If you're ever in San Diego, track down the University Town Center mall and see it for yourself. It's totally worth it.


As for tonight...I don't know what to tell you, kids. Some of the things being said in the media have left me completely perplexed. Sarcastic or not, you can't encourage vicious injuries to the opposition. Furthermore, do you really want to see this team spend time in the box with three of its best PK men out with injuries? Shake yourself.

It's the defence that truly has me intrigued. The pairings are all over the map: 6-24, 4-44 and 14-55. It's the last one that really freaks me out -- if anything, Lee's got the calmer head of the two, but this is the playoffs and he's a neophyte.

Speaking of neophytes, can someone explain how Sidney Crosby gained a wealth of experience in five playoff games last year? "He's not green anymore! Look out!" I know his hockey intelligence is unsurpassed, but how's about we save these threats until he's played in the post-season for a few years?

Back to the D for a final thought: The blueline has got to step up their grit for this series -- it was an integral part of the team's success against Pittsburgh last year. I was talking to a friend about Phillips the other day and we both came to the same conclusion: Why doesn't this guy realize how effective he is when he plays with some toughness? Has he not been praised enough when he's done so? It's like dog training -- give the guy a ton of positive reinforcement when he hits someone. "Good boy, 4! Play that man!" Slap him on the ass, and send him out again. By the way, if Phillips were a dog, he'd be a St. Bernard. Yeah, don't tell me you can't see it.

Looks like Spunt needs a break, and frankly so do I. More later.

Sorry kids...meant to get to this sooner.

Contrary to popular belief and propaganda, the media are on to something when they question certain teams' dressing room chemistry.

Case in point: A veteran threw a get-together for his franchise at the end of the regular season -- all players were invited. Two didn't show -- neither are fan favourites (likely because they didn't perform up to expectation). Word has it this duo never turns up whenever the team informally gathers, preferring instead to keep to themselves. One likely isolated himself based on his behaviour this year...as for the other...who knows what his damage is?


P.S. Heads up -- look for a mini-deglaze sometime today...maybe this aft.

(The following is an inside joke.)

(Pictured L to R: Brian Lee, TUC)

For JB

Forgive me if Earl McRae's recent column on Brian McGrattan is incapable of sending this blogger into a weepy, estrogen-driven mess. The most baffling bits:

The demeaning word "goon" does not apply to Brian McGrattan. Enforcer, yes.

He is not without playing skill beyond his fists...It's McGrattan's misfortune he is not playing in a past era when tough guys with enough playing skill were prime assets. In today's more physical Western Conference, he'd likely be a third or fourth line regular. If professional attitude was all the game was about, he'd be an NHL first-team all-star.

(throwing up hands) I don't even know where to begin with that. Perhaps you should read the rest -- and if anyone can explain why I'm supposed I'm supposed to feel compassion for a benchwarmer who serves little purpose...well, you know where to find me.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Heads up: TUC has a new advertiser for all of you to check out -- it's called Ninja Tickets, and it's a really cool site designed to help you get the most bang for your buck when searching for tickets online. They'll do all the legwork for you, letting you find and compare prices without wasting time by searching multiple sites. Click on the ad on the right-hand side of the page for more details.

And as always, if you're interested in advertising with TUC, click on "my profile" for contact information.


Friday, April 04, 2008

Expect things to be quiet around here for a bit -- I caught some sort of American superbug in San Diego and it's taking its toll. Hockey Night in La Jolla is still coming. As for last night -- just a few thoughts...

- The media who bitch about the Sens not dishing out repercussions with any degree of sincerity are hilarious. How long have you watched this team, ladies? Chris Neil is good for a yapfest, a pointless 10-minute misconduct and the occasional pee-wee toe drag. That's about it.

- I've replayed the tape in HD slo-mo at least 15 times. It was not a hit to the head, and Alfie has admitted as much. Bell caught a bit of his chin, but it was largely a shoulder to shoulder hit. The way 11's helmet sprang like a champagne cork had much more to do with his head issues. He should consider himself lucky that he came down on his shoulder first, but watching his bare head hit that ice is just brutal. As for the hit itself...what do we call that around here, kids? That's right -- Mustang Ranch. Just 'cause it's legal doesn't make it right.

- To me, it looks like 11's knee injury came from the blow as well -- there was no knee-on-knee that I saw. Alfie's right knee is bent inward as he took the shot, then the force of Bell's hit sent it immediately in the opposite direction. It was a side-to-side motion that could've caused some wrenching of ligaments. As for Fisher? You could sneeze on the dude and his knee would blow out. Damned if I know what happened there. 12 says Bell went knee-on-knee on him. I'll go look for it.

- Don't expect Bass to keep up that type of offensive production, but if he could, that's the type of fourth-liner this team desperately needs. I also woke up to some e-mails this morning, asking for "Kick his ass, C. Bass!" t-shirts. I want to, but...does Ottawa get this joke? Give me your thoughts, and we'll see how it progresses.

- And from the "Sorry, but it's true" files: At least this team now has a built-in excuse for tanking in the playoffs (assuming they get there). Should they use it? No. Will they? Do you even have to ask?

More later.

A win, yes...but someone doesn't want this team doing anything in the post-season (assuming that they're fortunate enough to get there). From TSN:

Daniel Alfredsson skated slowly to the bench after being hit hard by Leafs forward Mark Bell in Thursday's 8-2 Senators victory. Alfredsson returned to the ice for 30 seconds of a penalty kill in the second period before leaving for good. After a long chat with the team trainer, he left the bench and went to the dressing room for the remainder of the game... Mike Fisher seemed to have tweaked his groin or knee very early in Thursday's game and didn't return. Following the game, head coach Bryan Murray said both Fisher and Alfredsson have significant injuries. Murray said that Alfredsson's injury is more serious than Fisher's. They won't know anything for sure until Friday but Murray estimated Fisher could be a week and Alfredsson even longer. Murray wouldn't put a time frame on it but said he wasn't optimistic on Alfredsson and that it is "possible" the captain would miss at least the first round of the playoffs, if Ottawa makes it.

We've got more bounce in California

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

(Ed. Note: The following photos are large files, intended to give you a much closer look if you click on them.)

Seeing as that some teams aren't worth discussing right now, the time seems about right for TUC's breakdown of our trip to SoCal.

As stated earlier, The Driver and I took in a game at Staples Center -- Stars v. Kings. It was an afternoon game, which was fine by us as we were coming in from San Diego and didn't want to deal with traffic.

This was around the "front" of the arena. *snicker*

It seems like everything inside the building is purple, or purple-hued, which must make the Clippers feel like crap (sorry, the AFL and WNBA aren't worth referencing).

The arena itself is difficult to describe -- it's a tall building, but the sections of seats don't seem that big (this might have to do with the fact that there are three levels of suites going around the middle of the place like a very expensive belt). I took a peek around various points of the ice and the sightlines were fantastic. You'll also note that the retired jerseys are not hung from different spots on the roof, but instead are displayed all on one side of the ice.

During the St. Louis game here in Ottawa, The Driver and I were complaining about the quality of SBP's scoreboard (which has already been "improved" since the building opened). You can't make out anything on it -- basically it's like watching A-Channel. Now take a look at the pics below (by the way, I was making a similar face after discovering the score of the Sens-Bruins game):

I was sitting on a level called "Premier" -- if you've been to see the Wild play, it's similar to their Club Level. It's a restricted area with restaurants, a carpeted concourse, bigger bathrooms, etc. It's a great setup, although to be fair, the regular concourse itself was pretty fabulous -- with a monstrous team shop that blew Sensations out of the water (both in selection and prices). I wanted to take a photo of the store, but it was a madhouse in there. Our seats were situated just above the 100 level. There were only two seats to each row (excellent idea) and included in-seat food and beverage service (yes, sushi was on the menu). Here's some views from where we were sitting:

Here's a shot of the little signs that the ushers hold up during the game. No, I'm not kidding.

Now here's where it really becomes apparent that Senators fans are getting the short end of the stick -- let's talk about food selection. Here's what 23 USD (including tax) gets you at Staples Center:

We picked up these sandwiches at the Buss Stop (an eatery which may have been named by a Sun Media editor -- just a guess*). The Driver got a turkey and swiss sandwich; I went with a vegetable one on a croissant. Everything is prepped in front of you -- fresh, generous and surprisingly delicious. I hesitate to call hot (real) turkey fast food, but if you're going to eat on the quick at a game, this is the way to do it. And to top it all off? Plenty of tables and chairs to relax in. No hovering over counters and condiment kiosks here.

As for the game itself -- I won't lie, it wasn't a lot to write home about. As I was telling some of you earlier today, the Senators currently resemble the Kings in a lot of ways: The disorganized defence, the lack of shots on goal (it took L.A. nearly 15 minutes to get a SOG in the second period), the overpaid "elite" defenceman collecting his cash and playing out the string, the overcommitment by the goaltenders (Ersberg got yanked)...do I need to go on? High point of the game came when Marc Crawford made the utterly baffling decision to put Raitis Ivanans out during a power play, apparently to fight Steve Ott. Methinks it's about time Paulie Walnuts was put out to pasture. All that being said, the fans that were there definitely gave a (expletive) about the game -- a very high percentage were wearing Kings gear as well.

And here's a side note: You can add Kings mascot Bailey the lion to the list of NHL names beginning with "B" that I've nearly bowled over (other members of the club include Commissioner Gary Bettman and CBC announcer Bob Cole). We were in the process of opening an entrance to the main concourse when all of a sudden Bailey came barreling through it (he was on his way to the ice in an apparent hurry). It's the first time I've seen a mascot do a double take. He definitely wasn't expecting anyone to be behind that door.

Oh, and in case you were curious:

Tickets: $130 (included parking)
Food: $23
Two t-shirts (one chick-style longsleeve): $40 (seriously)
In-seat snacks and drinks: ~$20
Number of times Trooper was played: 0

In short, it was the best hockey experience I've had in 3 years...and the one before that came in Minnesota when we saw the Wild play Phoenix.

So what does that tell you?

Next up: Hockey Night in La Jolla.


*That's a joke, Ottawa. Calm yourselves.

Quick question for all the Mensas who think putting Ray Emery in net is going to solve matters (the same way losing Joe Corvo was going to fix things...or firing John Paddock...or waiting for Chris Neil to get healthy again...or breaking up/reuniting the top line...): Exactly how many goals can Emery score?

A ridiculous question? Perhaps, but it's worth mentioning when the team has been shutout twice in a row (for the second time this season).