Vermont Has Trees

Big, Beautiful Maple Trees.

1 Oct

NHL Opening Night Quick Thoughts

Devan Dubnyk is the city of Edmonton's Most Expensive Enigma

Devan Dubnyk, according to CapGeek.com, costs the Edmonton Oilers $3.5 million.

Devan Dubnyk has shown the hockey world flashes of brilliance.


Devan Dubnyk has shown the hockey world that he can sign autographs in a grey suit while ignoring pigeons.


And yet, Devan Dubnyk has also shown the hockey world that he might be better served as the goalie who sits on the bench and wears a baseball hat.


In Tuesday nights home opener, Dubnyk made 23 saves on 28 shots in the Oilers 5-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Coming off a season where Dubnyk seemed to finally be making strides, posting a .920 save percentage during his 38 games with the Oilers and winning all four of his starts at the World Championships for Team Canada in May, it's disappointing to see Dubnyk fall flat in his 2013-2014 debut.  

With only journeyman Jason Labarbera as the other viable option to log minutes, it appears that the Oilers are fully invested in riding out Dubnyk for the foreseeable future. A decision that may cost this young, high-octane group a chance at earning their first playoff berth since 2006. It's certainly early and with only game in the bag things are subject to drastically change, but at the moment it's not looking so good for Edmonton's six-foot-six netminder.


The Chicago Blackhawks Banner Ceremony Was a Tad Dramatic

If you found yourself asking, "Why is NBC Sports Network airing a tribute to the Titanic?" during the Blackhawks Stanley Cup banner raising ceremony tonight, then you're not alone.

Chicago pulled out all the stops. A light ceremony. Elementary school children holding up a banner. Eddie Olczyk speaking in public. You name it, they had it.

Perhaps what made the ceremony seem so emotionally confusing was the orchestral score that played as the banner slowly was raised to the rafters.  It felt like we were witnessing the reuniting of lost loves, not honoring a group of 20 men for defeating a team that plays in a city best known for its obsession with beans.

For a more in-depth look at the ceremony, check out Madhouse Enforcer's blog for NBC Chicago.


Credit to Joe Kremel at Fansided for the gif.


The "No Fighting In Hockey" Debate Is Around the Corner


(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz) / AP

Tuesday nights action took a scary turn when Montreal Canadiens enforcer George Parros fell face first into the ice during a fight with Colton Orr of the Toronto Maple Leafs.


According to ESPN.com, Parros has been diagnosed with a concussion.

With the NHL already taking strides to ensure player safety during fights - revising rule 46.6 so that players aren't allowed to remove their own helmets during a fight - it appears the Parros incident will spark further debate about the role of fisticuffs in the game.

While a complete ban on fighting will unlikely arise in the near future, it wouldn't be a total shock to see the NHL adopt a similar rule to that currently in effect in the Ontario Hockey League. Before the 2012-2013 season, the OHL introduced a new policy regarding fights.

According to the OHL Network, a player would receive an automatic two-game suspension for every fight after their tenth, and then for every fight exceeding the sixteenth, their two-game suspension would be accompanied by a $1,000 fine to the team. Any player deemed an instigator for a fight after the tenth, would receive an automatic four-game suspension.

It's certainly a tricky rule for the common fan to understand, what with multiple parts and the occasional multiple-syllable word, but it may get to the point where the NHL feels they have no choice.

Thoughts go out to Parros. Hopefully fans aren't deprived of his killer mustache for too long.

1 Oct

Hockey News/Thoughts From Around The Globe

Ilya Kovalchuk May Miss 4-6 Weeks

New Jersey Devils fans are probably cheering in the streets with news that Ilya Kovalchuk may miss 4 to 6 weeks.

Kovalchuk, who infamously announced his retirement from the NHL in order to bolt to his native Russia and play in the KHL, suffered a shoulder injury after colliding with SKA St. Petersburg teammate, and former Devils teammate, Alexei Ponikarovsky. While its certainly not the most vicious hit   keep in mind that Ponikarovsky is no slouch at 6'4", 225 pounds. 

Kovalchuk had 6 goals and 3 assists in 7 games for SKA.

Brett Lebda to Sweden?

A Swedish news outlet, one that I don't know the name of as I can't read Swedish, is reporting that former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brett Lebda is close to signing with Swedish club Leksands IF .

It's been a hard fall for Lebda, who after leaving Detroit following the 2009-2010 season, saw himself go from Stanley Cup champion, to being a guy booed out of the city of Toronto and even further down the ladder to a guy constantly hopping on shuttle buses between the American Hockey League and the NHL. He's a quick skating d-man with a nose for offense, but has been hampered by poor play in his own end and his small stature at 5'10". 

Lebda, 31, split last season between the Rockford IceHogs and Binghamton Senators of the AHL. In 59 games between the two clubs he scored 3 goals, added 26 assists and had a -9 plus/minus rating. He failed to record a point in 3 playoffs games with Binghamton.

Hugh Jessiman Isn't Panning Out, For Anybody

When the New York Rangers drafted Hugh Jessiman with the 12th pick in the 2003 NHL draft, the Dartmouth Big Green product had the world in his hands. Now, ten years later, Jessiman only has two NHL games under his belt. Leaving the 6-foot-6-inch forward as one of the biggest draft busts in NHL history.

Jessiman's bizarre collapse can be traced back to his NCAA career while at Dartmouth. In his freshman campaign, Jessiman scored 23 goals and 47 points in 34 games. In the same number of games played during his sophomore season, Jessiman slipped to 16 goals and 33 points. Then the wheels seemed to come flying off as a junior, a season that saw Jessiman record just 1 goal and 2 points in 12 games. He then decided to turn pro.

As of this year, Jessiman has played for 7 different AHL squads, appearing in 498 games and scoring 228 points, an average of .46 points per game.

Now, Jessiman finds himself as a member of Kontinental Hockey League squad Medvescak Zagreb, based in Croatia. Through 10 games Jessiman has failed to record a point, has racked up 10 penalty minutes and is a plus/minus -4. If a new continent, new team and a new league can't seem to spark a career turnaround, then I don't know what will. 

30 Sep 1

Josh Freeman to Jacksonville? Why not

Josh Freeman's days as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are numbered. After watching Sunday's game against Arizona from the press box, it appears that head coach Greg Schiano has sent a clear message; you're not playing for me anymore, son. Although, when you consider he's an adult male involved with professional football, he probably replaced "son" with an expletive. 

About 3 hours north of Tampa, sits the city of Jacksonville. They have an NFL team there. If Freeman was smart, he'd pack his bags, hop on a bus and go there. But sadly, it ain't that easy. 

To be blunt, the Jaguars are a mess. Their quarterback, Missouri product Blaine Gabbert, is having a season that would make Heath Shuler  consider his NFL career a success. In two starts, Gabbert has a passer rating of 30.5, is completing just 49.3% of his passes, and has thrown for 300 yards, no touchdowns and five interceptions. 

Though Freeman is barely any more impressive - 59.3, 45.7%, 571, 2-3 - he's proven in the past that he can handle the duties of starting under center in the NFL. Just last season Freeman aired it out for 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns. In 2010 he passed for 25 touchdowns and a passer rating of 95.9. Buried somewhere under Freeman's stubbornness and Greg Schiano's distaste lies the talent to develop a solid NFL quarterback. 

Tampa Bay, if he were to remain on the roster after week 6, would owe Freeman $4.2 million on the final year of his contract. Considering he'll likely spend his time as the third quarterback on the depth chart, Tampa would be wise to deal the 25-year-old quarterback. 

If I'm Jacksonville, I'd part ways with a 5th, 6th or 7th round pick in a heartbeat. Would taking a flyer on Freeman really be worse than watching Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne give it the ol' college try? It'd only cost $4.2 million and a draft pick they'd likely use on a kid from some small college in New Mexico anyway. The Jaguars are likely going to finish 0-16, so lets not act like they know how to draft. 

It's a small risk with a potentially big reward, and it's the kind of a gamble a team who plays second fiddle to NCAA football needs to take. 

30 Sep

Thoughts on the 2013-2014 Boston Bruins

Lengthy And Not Quick Points:

  • Tuukka Rask has emerged as an elite goaltender. En route to Boston's second Stanley Cup Final appearance in three years, Rask posted a 1.88 goals against average and an eye-popping .940 save percentage. Some argue that Rask is the benefactor of playing behind the combination of a defense-first team and Norris trophy candidate Zdeno Chara, but the 26-year-old Finnish goalie isn't always walking down easy street. As a team Boston ranked 15th in cumulative shots against (1,085) and fared slightly better in shots per 60 minutes (28 per 60) at 13th. They're certainly not a mess on the blue-line, but at the same time they're not the New Jersey Devils of the late 90s. Rask deserves every bit of his new eight-year, $56 million contract extension, and it wouldn't be a long shot to see a Boston goaltender bring home the Vezina trophy for the second time in four years. 
  • Jarome Iginla has a tank. Whats left in it and how much is in there remains a question, but rest assured GM Peter Chiarelli landed a worthy replacement for Nathan Horton. Despite his growth into a big game player, Horton joined former teammate and close friend Milan Lucic in forming a duo of painfully inconsistent forwards. If the NHL handed out an award for "Guy Who Should Be Playing a Bigger Role Tonight, But Is Just Sort of Floating Around" then Horton would surely be a finalist. And yet, on the nights when Horton ditches the laziness and turns to physicality he becomes one of the more dominating presences on the ice. Hence the frustration from fans. Just to be clear though, I'm not trying to say this guy meant nothing to the B's. Without Horton the 2011 cup run doesn't happen, and last years postseason would have most likely ended against Toronto. But at the same time, and to conclude, the 36-year-old Iginla - who's tallied 61 points in 68 career playoff games - will be an excellent plug to fill the void. 
  • While the Dallas Stars enjoy the growth of Tyler Seguin from "the kid who was thrown out of pubs" to "one of the greatest forwards in Dallas Stars history", Bruins fans will equally enjoy the play of Swedish forward Loui Eriksson. Likely to be paired on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, Eriksson looks to return to the 70-point scorer he was from 2009 to 2012. The 28-year-old saw a decline in numbers during the lockout shortened season, scoring just 12 goals and 29 points in 48 games, but during a full 82-game schedule hasn't scored fewer than 26 goals since 2008. Eriksson is capable of replacing the offense Seguin provided during his time with the B's, and more importantly, he brings a stronger two-way game to Beantown
  •  The most devastating loss for the Bruins this off-season came in the form of Andrew Ference's departure. It was a tough move for the B's to make, being crippled by the cap and a slew of young defensemen deserving of a full-time shot in the show. Ference certainly wasn't the Bruins most talented player on the blue line, but his leadership and clubhouse presence is something that will be missed. Going to a young Edmonton Oilers squad is the perfect move for Ference and a move that the team is already reaping the effects of, having named Ference as their captain yesterday.  



Projected Line Combinations (With Cap Hits):

Milan Lucic ($6,000,000) - David Krejci ($5,250,000) - Jarome Iginla ($6,000,000)

Brad Marchand ($4,500,000) - Patrice Bergeron ($5,000,000) - Loui Eriksson ($4,250,000)

Carl Soderberg ($1,008,333) - Chris Kelly ($3,000,000) - Reilly Smith ($900,000)

Daniel Paille ($1,300,000) - Gregory Campbell ($1,600,000) - Shawn Thornton ($1,100,000)

Healthy Scratch: Jordan Caron ($640,000)

Zdeno Chara ($6,916,667) - Dennis Seidenberg ($3,250,000) 

Torey Krug ($1,704,167) - Johnny Boychuk ($3,366,667)

Matt Bartkowski ($650,000) - Adam McQuaid ($1,566,667)

Healthy Scratch: Dougie Hamilton ($1,494,167)


Tuukka Rask ($7,000,000)

Chad Johnson ($600,000)


My Totally Biased Atlantic Division Season Prediction/Preview:

With the NHL's new wild card playoff system   it's highly likely that five teams - Boston, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Detroit - could represent the Atlantic division in the postseason. 

Montreal, victors in the leagues former Northeast division, added veteran Danny Briere, a forward who exemplifies the Canadiens pesky, speedy style of play. Yet, with goaltender Carey Price teetering the line of consistency, the teams ceiling is tough to determine. Defenseman P.K. Subban is turning into one of the leagues best and forward Brendan Gallagher looks to build on an eye-opening rookie campaign - 20 points in 36 games. 

Ottawa looks primed to be a serious contender with the addition of forward Bobby Ryan, who looks to form a potent 1-2 tandem with center Jason Spezza. In net the Senators will rely on the enigma that is Craig Anderson, and talented young Swede Robin Lehner. Ottawa's depth upfront - Kyle Turris, Colin Greening, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Cory Conacher and Clarke MacArthur - will pose as the Senators biggest threat to Boston. Honestly, I'd love to see these two match up in the postseason. It'd come down Ottawa's quick, young offense against Boston's even mix of veteran and youthful d-men, and that my friends, would make for one hell of a series. 

Toronto added Chicago Blackhawks center David Bolland, the guy who scored a goal that Bruins fans aren't too fond of , goaltender Jonathan Bernier, and former New Jersey Devils winger David Clarkson. Clarkson will serve a 10-game suspension to open the season, and along with his hefty contract, will likely never be able to silence the Toronto media enough to focus on actually playing hockey. Bernier will look to form a legitimate goalie tandem with holdover James Reimer, a goal that looks great on paper but like so many other things in Maple Leafs history, has just as much potential to flame out. 

Detroit still has Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. They're both very good. Jimmy Howard, an invitee to team USA Olympic camp, will anchor the Wings transition to the eastern conference, and hopefully for Howard's sake, begin to receive the attention he deserves as an elite net minder. The Red Wings young d-men, including highly touted rookie Danny DeKeyser, will look to form some kind of consistency with stalwarts Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson. Shifting teams within the division was veteran Daniel Alfredsson, who traded in his Senators sweater for the red ones that Detroit wears. They also wear white ones, and when the time comes for them to do so Alfredsson will put one on as well. 

Florida has the potential to surprise, but honestly, what team doesn't? Bruins fans have seen what Tim Thomas can do, so its not a stretch of the imagination to see Florida sneak into the playoffs. But when you consider that Thomas hasn't played in a year, the Panthers lack of a true number one center, and that Jacob Markstrom is still known as the kid who flopped like an Italian soccer player at the World Junior Championships   then things aren't looking so hot for Miami's closest hockey team. 

As for Tampa Bay and Buffalo, there's always next year. Tampa Bay has one of the world's best players in Steven Stamkos, but that won't be any help to their situation in net. I'm sure Anders Lindback and Ben Bishop are fine human beings, but they won't be able to take the Lightning back to the postseason. Much farther north of Tampa Bay, in snow-barren city of Buffalo, things aren't looking so good either. Ryan Miller and/or Thomas Vanek will likely be heading out of town by March, and, sadly, the team will continue to employ John Scott. But hey, Ville Leino could always start earning that contract of his. And I only say that because somebody has to score goals, right?

Anywho, here's how I see things panning out:

1). Ottawa

2). Boston

3). Montreal

4). Detroit

5). Toronto

6). Florida

7). Tampa Bay

8). Buffalo

Final Thoughts:

The Bruins will contend for the cup, but reaching the finals two consecutive years is a daunting task. Ottawa seems to present Boston's biggest challenge, so for the sake of not seeming like a total blowhard, I gave them the edge in the division. Montreal, Detroit and Toronto will finish 3rd through 5th respectively. But, as mentioned before, with the NHL's new wild card playoff format it's entirely possible that this division sends five to the postseason, stealing a playoff spot from the Metropolitan division. 

So yeah, the B's will probably finish around 46-27-9, earning them 101 points and home ice in the first round. It'll be a good year.