Wed Jun 19 04:56pm EDT
The Bakersfield Condors had another rough year in 2012-13, missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season and winning just 22 games, good for dead last in the ECHL.
Also, there was that hilarious escaping condor incident.
But 2013-14 will be better! The Condors guarantee it. Breaking the cycle of playoff-lessness isn't just a goal for the club next season -- it's an expectation. And so confident are the Condors that they'll make the cut for the 2014 Kelly Cup playoffs that, if they don't, your tickets are free. From the Condors:
Purchase a Condors ticket plan, Pick-6 or larger, for the 2013-14 season, and if we do not qualify for the 2014 Kelly Cup Playoffs, your six games in 2014-15 will be FREE.
[...] "We will make the playoffs, I guarantee it," said Condors President Matthew Riley. "But if we don't, it's no skin off our back, because all of the free tickets will come out of JO's paycheck."
If you're wondering who JO is, that would be team General Manager John Olver, who took over on April 11. He's been charged with getting this group back to the dance, and if he doesn't, the tickets you bought are coming out of his pocket. No pressure, Olver.
He's confident that he can get it done.
"30 years in the hockey business and I have never missed the playoffs," he said, apparently unaware that this means he's due for it. "I don't expect that streak to end this season."
Of note: there are nine teams in the ECHL's Western Conference and eight make the playoffs, so it will be tough to screw this up. But it's possible!
The offer, which is valid through the end of July, works like so: buy six tickets on the Pick-6 plan, and if the Condors finish outside the playoff bubble for the third straight year, those tickets are on the house, or at least the master of it.
It's win-win! Or lose-win!
Anyway. The Edmonton Oilers should adopt this model.
Wed Jun 19 04:08pm EDT
BOSTON – Bryan Bickell thinks the Chicago Blackhawks have made life too relaxing for goalie Tuukka Rask.
“We haven’t given Rask too much of a hard time. He’s seeing first shots, and the ‘D’ are helping him clear the crease,” he said, hours before Game 4 on Wednesday.
“We need to take his eyes away.”
To do that, the Blackhawks will have to be something they weren’t in their Game 3 loss to the Boston Bruins, which is dangerous offensively.
To achieve that, Coach Joel Quenneville is expected to put Bickell back with two familiar faces: Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
“Every series is different. Every matchup is different,” said Quenneville. “They've had some looks together over the course of the games. We look at production. Sometimes maybe we're looking to ignite. One line can get going. We don't really care who scores goals. If they can get hot, get on the board offensively, that's what we look for.
“But they're certainly capable of it. They exited the last series on a high note. Getting back together here, hopefully they can continue on."
Wed Jun 19 03:12pm EDT
Here are your Puck Headlines: a glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.
• Neil Degrasse Tyson with arguably his most brilliant observation ever. [Neil Degrasse Tyson]
• Bryan Bickell on how Mario Kart helps the team focus. [NHL]
• Contrary to the opinion of some, Jonathan Toews is having a very, very good postseason. [MC79 Hockey]
• The Boston Bruins' defence is pretty good, eh? [CSNNE]
• How the Chicago Blackhawks can get through it. [Backhand Shelf]
• Bill Daly on the Devils' financial troubles: “Despite recent reports to the contrary, which are inaccurate, we are not concerned about the Devils’ future, or the franchise’s ability to achieve long-term success in Newark." [Fire & Ice]
• The Phoenix Coyotes prospective new owners finally presented their proposal to the Glendale City Council. It did not go well. Councilperson Norma Alvarez was especially unimpressed. She left the meeting early, saying, "I couldn't take it anymore." [AZ Central]
• Bryan Murray is trying to move up at the Draft. “I’ve talked to a number of teams and asked them to consider possibility of flipping picks or doing something where they might get what they need out of it and we might get what we need out of it. I don’t know if anybody will consider that, but I know as you get closer to the draft, if you have a pick very high up, it’s very hard to make the decision to move back. I’m not thinking that will happen, but we at least have to make the calls and to suggest we’re open to talk.” [Senators Extra]
• Henrik Lundqvist denies pushing Tortorella out: "I would never put pressure on the management on decisions like that. I’m just a player. My focus is to play the game and do the best I can on the ice. Whatever [happens] off the ice, I leave to our great staff we have working for this club.” [NY Post]
Wed Jun 19 02:00pm EDT
BOSTON – Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron won 24 of the 28 faceoffs he took against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. NBC Sports analyst Eddie Olczyk, who took his share of draws in a 16-year NHL career, likened it to watching a pitching machine in batting practice – that’s how automatic Bergeron was all night.
He’s considered the best faceoff man in the NHL, leading the League in playoff faceoff percentage at 62.7 percent, an improvement on the 62.1 percent mark he had in leading all faceoff men in the regular season.
So why is Patrice Bergeron so damn good at faceoffs?
“You should ask him. I’m not going to give anything away,” said center David Krejci.
But why is Patrice Bergeron so damn good at faceoffs?
“He wins’em,” quipped Chris Kelly of the Bruins.
No, seriously: Why is Patrice Bergeron so damn good at faceoffs?
“He does everything. It’s not just one thing,” said Kelly, who faces Bergeron in practice with the other Bruins centers.
“A lot of guys have a go-to move and he can read it your tendencies. Bergy switches it up. Very creative in the circle. He finds ways to win draws. It’s not just one thing.”
Like Pavel Datsyuk stickhandling, Bergeron has a bag of tricks in the faceoff circle and can beat you in several different ways.
Wed Jun 19 01:36pm EDT
It's a Wednesday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more:
Special Guest Stars: Jesse Spector from Sporting News joins Wysh live from Boston as Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final is hours away.
• What the Bruins and Blackhawks were saying before Game 4.
•Pass/Fail on the contracts for Datsyuk, Streit, Couture and Voynov.
• The Avs claim they're passing on Seth Jones.
Click here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above! Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or Feedburner.
Wed Jun 19 12:47pm EDT
BOSTON – The way the Boston Bruins have quieted the Chicago Blackhawks’ offense is reminiscent of what they did in the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the other top stars for the Penguins went pointless in the four-game sweep. Blackhawks forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane and Sharp are going through a similar drought.
The Boston Bruins experience, as the Rangers and Penguins discovered, isn’t a fun one. It’s the limiting of time and space and the layer upon layer of defensive pressure at all times. Chicago’s stars can’t shine because the Bruins are smothering them.
Still, for as much as Boston’s been controlling at times in this series, all it takes is a fortunate bounce to get the wheel turning the other way. The Blackhawks’ power play could wake up. Their stars could get going. The Bruins’ third line can quiet down. Corey Crawford could return the favor and shutout Boston in Game 4.
This is why the mood in the Blackhawks’ room was one of confidence, not urgency.
Wed Jun 19 11:32am EDT
Let us juxtapose what's going on right now on the bluelines of Pennsylvania.
In Philadelphia, the Flyers are so desperate for a puck-moving defenceman -- and so determined not to come out of this offseason without one -- that they've traded for the rights to a 35-year-old Mark Streit and are only a buyout (or two) away from signing him to a guaranteed contract worth $21 million over the next four seasons. That's a cap hit of $5.25 million, and one they won't be able to buy their way out of due to Streit's age. But they're willing to do it because they're desperate for someone with Streit's skillset.
Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, General Manager Ray Shero has reportedly decided he's willing to pay Kris Letang, 26, and fresh off his first Norris nomination, no more than $6 million per year -- less than a million more than Streit is in line to receive. What's more, because Letang can probably get more than that and Shero's well aware, the Penguins' GM is strongly considering trading him instead.
According to Rob Rossi, while Shero's been aggressive on his extensions so far this season, re-upping his entire coaching staff, inking Evgeni Malkin to a huge new deal, and even beginning talks with winger Pascal Dupuis, Letang's agent has yet to field a call from the Pittsburgh GM. From TribLive:
That is no accident.
Shero is fairly confident Letang has become a must-move player.
That is true because Letang is not the consensus best defenseman on the Penguins, at least in the eyes of management and coaches.
That is true because the Penguins are deepest on defense among top prospects, including a couple of first-round picks from last summer (Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta).
It would be absolutely stunning to watch one Pennsylvania team sign Mark Streit to that contract while the other is deeming Kris Letang expendable.
There's some sense in it from Shero's end, however.
Wed Jun 19 10:44am EDT
The Chicago Blackhawks have a lot of things – history, popularity, the best jersey in hockey and at least one awesomely awkward blonde mullet.
But do they have a hip-hop anthem that sounds like Drake reading from an official game program? THEY DO NOW!
That’s Young Regime and his superfriends Windy City Beast and Tiggy-G, rapping on “Stanley Cup Swagger.” Sample prose:
“Stanley Cup swagger/You can tell by how we walk.”
“This team is all we talk about/Chicago Blackhawks.”
A few observations:
• The sleeveless Jonathan Toews shirsy needs to die spectacularly in a fire.
• We’re fond of this lyric: “My smile way too perfect/Duncan Keith can have my teeth.” But then again we're suckers for name-checks.
• We’re just going to pretend the AMP energy drink is a ’40’ of Steel Reserve.
• Oh man, the Chelsea Dagger break. The CHELSEA DAGGER BREAK …
Well, there it is: The hip-hop anthem for the Blackhawks no one was asking for, but that’s been handed to us by Young Regime. What say you?
Pass or Fail: Young Regime’s Stanley Cup Swagger featuring Windy City Beast & Tiggy-G
Wed Jun 19 10:11am EDT
BOSTON -- Wade Redden walked into the Boston Bruins' locker room after their morning skate on Monday and ran into top prospects Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Darnell Nurse. The four were at TD Garden for a media availability ahead of the NHL Draft later this month and were hanging around the Bruins' locker room when Redden stopped, still in his gear, to chat them up.
It was 18 years ago that the 36-year old Redden was one of those prospects inside Joe Louis Arena during the 1995 Stanley Cup Final doing the same thing: meeting NHL players, talking to the media and hoping one day he'd be where he is today: in the NHL, having a chance to win a ring.
One year ago, that hope didn't seem like it would ever materialize again for Redden, who watched the Kings-Devils final after completing his second season with the Connecticut Whale of the AHL. Redden and his $6.5 million salary were demoted in a salary cap-saving move by the New York Rangers before the 2010-11 season. He didn't complain. He didn't request a trade. He just came to the rink every day and played, but kept the hope that one day he would be back in the NHL.
"I think that's what I had in my head to motivate and push [me]," said Redden. "I knew I could come back and I wanted to get an opportunity. I don't think I ever would have predicted it, but definitely that's what you want to have in your mind."
"I went down to Hartford and had a positive experience there. I enjoyed the game down there, even though it was a tough situation. Once I got over that, I tried to approach the game the way I always have. And that's the way I've got to keep doing it."
Wed Jun 19 08:52am EDT
When the Colorado Avalanche won the draft lottery and the right to select defenceman Seth Jones -- the top-ranked prospect, according to central scouting -- most had the immediate sense that this was probably what they would do.
After all, the Avs got six goals from their blueline in 2013, and only one defenceman, Tyson Barrie, scored more than one (he scored two). A franchise defenceman -- say, a Seth Jones type, not unlike, I don't know, Seth Jones -- would do them a lot of good.
But they won't be drafting Seth Jones. According to Executive VP of Hockey Operations (and sort-of GM) Joe Sakic, the Avalanche will likely be drafting one of Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, or Alexander Barkov.
"If we do pick first, we're leaning more toward one of those three forwards," Sakic told the Denver Post, adding, "We feel those three forwards are just too good to pass up."
Well. I'm having a hard time with this.