And Then There Were Two…

18 03 2012

A hockey team is made up of 20 players:  eight wingers, six defensemen, four centers, and two goalies.  It’s not surprising that the forwards get the most attention, considering they’re the ones scoring most of the goals and making the fancy plays that hit the highlight reels every night on ESPN.  But, on any given night, a team could thrive or completely tank depending on the play of one person:  the goaltender.

These guys make me feel like I need to stretch every day, I mean really?!  They’re crazy flexible!  You think the goal can’t be that big, but when you have a puck coming at you at about 90 mph (or 108 mph if you’re Zdeno Chara, that friggin’ giraffe), your reflexes have to be crazy quick.  In my opinion, the thing the separates a good goaltender from a great goaltender is simple:  he’s not a sieve.  He’s big in the net, crazy quick, and gives his team a legitimate chance to win every game, no matter who the opponent is.  So, in honor of the smallest contingent of men in the NHL, we here at Hockey’s Finest present the Top 6 (because I couldn’t pick just 5) goaltenders of the 2011-2012 season.

6.  Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes

I mean REALLY?!  Marian Gaborik is a dangerous shooter, and Smitty just closes the door.  Unreal.  But like I said before, a team is only as good as its goalie.  And Phoenix is absolutely not an exception to that rule.  When was the last time they were a legitimate threat going into the playoffs?  As of right now, they’re one point outside the race, sitting in 10th place in the West just behind San Jose.  But you had better believe that without Smith posting a .924 save percentage (tied with Kari Lehtonen and Pekka Rinne), they would be an afterthought sitting in the Western Conference basement.  The fact that they can be included in the playoff conversation, especially after their less-than-stellar play the last few season is remarkable, and Mike Smith deserves a huge hunk of the credit.

5.  Pekka Rinne, Nashville Pedators

Homeboy is ridonkulous.  He has to be one of the quickest goalies in the league, second only to Thomas the Tank Engine in Beantown (he’s got those short lil’ legs).  Rinne is truthfully the backbone of that Nashville team.  Yes, Shea Weber gets the bulk of the attention, but if you ask any NHL forward who they don’t like to see between the pipes on the other team, Rinne’s always in the conversation.  Plus, he has a sick name.  You can’t compete with that.

4.  Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

Yet another very appropriate name.  He’s so speedy!  It’s hard for you as a player to look at the goal while you have the puck on your stick because, personally, I’d be thinking, “Oh $#!+, it’s JQ and I’m not gonna score, am I?”  NOPE.  He’s a wall.  Thankfully he gets the recognition he deserves, because even when the Kings hit the skids, Quick is always on the positive side of the conversation.  Great player.

3.  Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins

I know some of you might be wondering why I put Thomas so high on this list, and it’s a valid question.  To me, Thomas is an elite goaltender.  Boston sports fans put their athletes on this pedestal of a God-like status, and Thomas has been up there for quite some time.  Yes, his save percentage is nowhere near where it was last year.  However, that stat was truly unreal, and I’m surprised he bounced back this well after the year the Bruins had and the short summer.  Plus, he’s just a solid dude.  I has a soft spot for Timmay, what can I say?

2.  Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues

Talk about a dark horse team.  If you had asked any pundit out there what team would be the first o reach 100 points the year, very few if any at all, would have pegged the Blues for that distinction.  I put both of their goalies together because they’ve split the season almost down the middle and, truthfully, are one of the best tandems in the league (Thomas/Rask in Boston are the other).  Every night, no matter who seems to be between the pipes, St. Louis is solid as a brick wall back there.  They’re just nuts, I can’t even stand it.

1.  Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

Oh, Hank.  You’re so dreeeeaaammmyyyyy :) *AHEM* I mean, he’s very talented…..whatever, we all know Henrik is gorg, and then there’s the flow….is it hot in here?  Okay I’m done.  But on the serious, folks, isn’t it always the pretty ones that end up being the most talented?  I like to call it Taylor Swift syndrome:  They’re pretty, they’re nice, they’re talented, and you want to hate them on principle, but you CAN’T.  BECAUSE THEY’RE SO DARN NICE.  And Lundqvist has got to be one of the most humble, nice guys in the league, and to go along with how clutch he is every single night for the Rangers is simply remarkable.  I can’t even fathom putting someone else at the top of this list, even though they’ve hit a bit of a slump lately, but he’s just too good.  Even in the clip above, the Rangers were down by 2 with 8 minutes left in the 3rd period, and he just keeps fighting.  He’s a dirty goalie, in the best way possible.  Now if only I can find a way to just touch the hair and not get arrested…..ideas?

What do you guys think?  Did we leave anyone out?  Let us know in the comments!

-M

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The year of the “WTF” team

14 02 2012

Has anyone else noticed a strange pattern in the NHL lately?  And by pattern, I mean freak occurrences that no one could have predicted (unless of course your name is Miss Cleo).

CALL ME NOW FOR YER FREE TAROT READIN!

By now you should have deduced that I’m talking about the success of teams in strange hockey markets like Miami and Phoenix.  I know San Jose is playing well too, but I’m leaving them out of this because they’ve been a contender for the last few years.

Anyone who has read a post of mine on Hockey’s Finest knows I’m only slightly obsessed with any member of the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks.  So, as you can imagine, I’ve been following the Florida Panthers closely this season, considering about half of that championship team took their talents to South Beach.

South Beach, BRING THE HEAT

At any rate, the Florida Panthers are on tope of the Southeast division, have 65 points on the year, and should be on pace for a franchise-high point and win record.  But, for some reason, they’re consistently flying under the radar.  You never hear anyone talking about this team because, let’s be honest, southern Floridians know next to nothing about hockey.  And I say that with the utmost respect because, again, Florida is simply not a hockey market.  It’s a basketball town and always will be.  Thanks a lot, Lebron.  Long story short, it’ll be interesting to see the reaction to the Panthers next season, especially depending on their playoff run (provided there is one; I know it’s still early).

Now, onto Phoenix.  This is truly the island of misfit toys.  When you used to think of the Phoenix Coyotes, there wasn’t any one particular person you thought of.  Then came Shane Doan.  Mike Smith.  And, thanks to Twitter, Paul Bissonette.  They’re beginning to form a true identity, beginning with their solid play up to this point.  Other teams in weird hockey markets that started quickly (I’m looking at you Dallas), have fallen off the map, making room for Phoenix to take their place.  I mean heck, just last night they took Vancouver to a shootout.  A shootout!  If a team like Vancouver can’t put away the Coyotes in regulation, you gotta hand it to them in that they’re playing with purpose.  Kudos to them and the fans; they’re fighting to keep the franchise where it is.

Now, the only question is:  will they keep it up?  A hockey season is a long 82 games, and we’re at about #55.  It’s always interesting to see the playoff race shape up the closer we get to springtime, so make your predictions now, ladies and gents!  You never know what might happen.





An Ode to Patrick Kane

22 01 2012

Last night was a big game for Patrick Kane (aka Lil’ Peek-a-boo).

Hhhhnngggghhhhhhh (that's me drooling over Mr. Goldilocks)

HE SCORED A GOOOAAAAALLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!

*cue Chelsea Dagger*

Ignore the NHL’s misspelling of Kaner’s first name, and check out this beauty from last night against the Florida Panthers.

He needed that boost for sure.  And look how happy everyone is for him?!  I love team-wide hockey bromances :)

Plus, can we talk about how even though the weather was AWFUL in Chicago last night, and the fan’s still filled about 80-90% of the United Center?  Talk about dedication.  Kaner,  the #1 Star of the Game, acknowledged the fans for coming out despite the weather.  Yet another thing I love about him.  He always recognizes the fans and gives them a moment of his time whenever he can.  Though I couldn’t find the video form last night, checkout this sweet shout-out to the fans after the Blackhawks took a 3-0 series lead against the San Jose Sharks in 2010 on their way to winning the Stanley Cup:

PRECIOUS.  Anyway, I feel like lately people have been hating on Lil’ Peek-a-boo because he hasn’t been playing well (cough MIKE MILBURY cough), and I still/will always love him as a player and a person.

One last thing, then I’ll shut up.  At the end of every warmup, he’s usually the last one on the ice.  He’ll gather up a few pucks, and hand them out to some younger kids on his way into the dressing room.  Melts my heart.

-M





My foot is broken.

10 01 2012

JK. LOL! No it’s not.

Oh James, you kidder, you. (We’re not amused, by the way)

Damn these Penguins and the emotional rollercoasters they put us through.

Remember this?

When all Pens fans needed to be talked down from a ledge.

No Sid. No Staal. No Neal. No Adams. No Tanger — and the list goes on. What were the Penguins going to do now? They already dropped to 18th in the League and are on a 4 game LOSING streak! Not to sound like a spoiled fan…but I am just not used to this.

S & I were all “Kill me. Now.” No amount of wine or Ben & Jerry’s could fix this.

UNTIL!!

This happened.

What. A. Beast.

WOAH! WHAT?!

My heart burst into a zillion pieces. Count ’em. A. ZILLION. A first I was like, “OH MY GOD, HE’S GONNA PLAY WITH A BROKEN FOOT!” but then I read on. He has a preexisting condition — which threw the xrays off. The foot is not broken. HOORAY!

Such a BAMF.

There is nothing more attractive to a girl than a tough guy who works through the pain.

So. Our suicidal thoughts subsided, the clouds parted, and the sun peaked through. JAMES NEAL, YOU BEAST!

Now, lets make one thing clear. I will personally hunt down any man who injures any more of my Penguins. Seriously. We can’t handle it anymore. Let’s hope that Nealer playing tonight is a sign that things are going to change.

xoxo





Where was Calgary?

6 01 2012

Apparently, Calgary didn’t show up to last night’s game. I know! How rude, right?! Instead, they let the Bruins get in a little extra practice at throwing pucks to the net in preparation for Saturday night’s showdown against the ‘Nucks. (Viewing party at my house)

9 to ZERO! Really?!

When S & I were involved in the Pop Warner program cheering on our boys from the sidelines, I used to think the “mercy rule” was just plain stupid. Apparently, embarrassing the other team by flat out steam rolling their a$$e$ was frowned upon– but we certainly liked it at the time. Now, almost 12 years later, I’m thinking the NHL should put some sort of Mercy Rule into effect because last night was just plain embarrassing.

*slaps knee laughing* Oh, NHL! You're such a kidder...

Calgary can’t possibly be that bad, can they? I mean really. 9-0?

Sorry Calgary fans, I really am. That was just not fun to watch…

…Oh who am I kidding. It kind of was.

Lets end on a little joke, shall we? From my personal twitter account, I follow Lucic’s GF. (By the way, total sweetheart– I love her) Last night she had me rolling.

another knee slapper.

So what was once going to be a boring old Friday has now turned into a happy day around the office. No more holiday hangover. People are smiling, laughing, and skipping around. Occasionally, you hear “9-0…REALLY?!”. Even my boss is into it! GASP! 

So everyone, Happy Friday.

Oh! I almost forgot. S & I have special message for HBO:

THANKS FOR NOTHING!

xoxo

 





Stammer Time: Remix

5 01 2012

As most of you know, we made our way to 2 Lightning games last week. Now, don’t take what I’m about to say as a complaint because I could NEVER get sick of Stammer Time–but after scoring so many goals (5 total. 2 @ the Flyer/Bolts. 3 @ the Canes/Bolts) Can’t Touch This gets kind of annoying. So we’re proposing a *NEW* song for Stammer to celebrate to.

Go ahead. Change the lyrics around a bit. We did.

Stop! Now make that motherf*cker Stammer Time..

We apologize if we ruined this song for you– because now all we can think of when we hear it is…well… Stammer. Which is fine by me. I can see it in my  head now. I think it fits, dont you? Now go ahead. Listen to the song while watching these highlights from the Hatty we witnessed. We’re geniuses, I tell ya. I’m thinkin’ we could take over the audio department — for a night. And when we say “for a night”, it’s because we’re positive we’ll get fired after the 1st period.

Steven Stamkos. If I wasn’t a huge fan before last week, I am now. Congrats on your Hatty!

Drop that a$$, make it boomerang.





What a night.

27 11 2011

What was that?!

…Sorry, I can’t understand what you are saying…but it sure does sound pretty. [Click here] to watch the Hockey 360 Kris Letang interview (in French). I really need to learn French. Who wants to tutor me? I take this seriously.

oh tanger.

Anyway, lets recap on last night for just a second. The one time I choose the Bruins over the Penguins–Letang scores the GWG. SERIOUSLY?! That’s it. From now on it’s Penguins over Bruins.

But, first I find out that Max Pacioretty breaks Kris’ nose.

MAN DOWN!

BLOOD! I SEE BLOOD! ... a lot of blood ...

NOT THE FACE!

Pacioretty. You are dead to me.

Thankfully, I was too preoccupied with my Bruins to freak out. And thankfully, S didn’t tell me about it until he was back on the ice scoring the game winner in OT.

Congrats, Kris! Just continue to be a beast and blow up my fantasy team. I don’t mind. But next time, try and do it without breaking your nose.

he shoots. he scores.