Subscribe: Casualhockey
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
burns  don  game  games  great  hockey  ice  jacques  mike  nhl  night  number  oilers  season  tonight  wilds  year 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Casualhockey


- Your Guide to the Minnesota Wild and the NHL

Updated: 2018-03-06T04:42:11.577-06:00


Jacques' Poll: Would a Dose of Levitra do the Trick?


(image) Another terrible, horrible, no good, rotten game last night by the Wilds in a 3-1 loss to the Flyers. Mike Russo of the StarTribune said fans were booing it was so bad. I couldn't even watch the third period. And just think, 88% of you said Jacques is not on the hot seat. (See Jacques' Poll at right). Why not? This team doesn't play with any consistency. With the exception of Aaron Voros (we'll talk about him in days to come), no one plays with any passion. Backstrom let a goal in from outside the blue line, our best defenseman is a 72 year old Keith Carney, our best offensive threat is Voros a tall, gangling rookie, and the powerplay is a fucking joke. As my wife said last night after the Wilds botched another 5 on 3 advantage, "the enemy of good is perfect..." I was like, why aren't you coaching?

Let me highlight the problem at hand. The Wilds have exactly one win in games where the opponent scores the first goal. One win??? Guess how many wins they have when trailing after 2 periods.......two. That's right, they have two come from behind wins this season in 27 games. What a joke! Where's the heart, the grit and determination? Where's the ingenius bench strategy that Jacques is known for???

Yet, you people think Jacques has control over this ice hockey club. Now, admittedly, Jacques' Poll did coincide with a 4-game win streak by the Wilds, but still isn't the writing on the wall? This team needs to get it going. The Western Conference is so tight, the Wilds could easily miss the playoffs. What's the solution?

Who said there's nothing to do in North Dakota?


(image) In what is quickly becoming the must-see event of the season, former college hockey coaches Doug Woog and "Mean" Dean Blais will face off against each other in a game of bubble hockey. Yeah, that's right. Bubble hockey. They will play the game at center ice in Englestad Arena between periods of the Sioux-Gopher game this Friday. AND this match will be televised!!! So, don't tell me you've got nothing to do this weekend. You can always watch two old college hockey coaches play bubble hockey against each other. (Incidentally, have you ever watched a game of bubble hockey??? It's just about the most boring fucking thing on the planet. Playing is fun, watching not so much.)

Doug Woog, of course, coached the mighty Gophers and now acts as the Paula Abdul of Fox Sports North. I swear that guy is drunk every Saturday night game he broadcasts. Seriously, listen to him mumble and stumble through the game. "Mean" Dean Blais coached the Fighting Sioux to a couple of national titles. (By the way, Blais is mean. I went to his hockey camp and was about 10 seconds late to an on-ice meeting. He screamed for me to "skate 10 fucking laps, then get your ass back here!" I was 12. Also, I heard a rumor he punched one of his scramble partners in the face for missing a putt.)

If all that is true, Blais is going to fucking crush Woog. And if Mean Dean loses, I bet he jerseys Woog sends his drunk ass to the ice. Come to think of it, I will probably watch this.

WILDS UPDATE: Philly tonight. I hope Kim Johnsson keeps his chin tucked.

Jacques Lemaire: Great haircut but are his coaching days numbered?


(image) Here's a question for you: Should Jacques Lemaire be fired??? (That's him pictured above during his playing days. Handsome devil, isn't he?) The Wilds, despite a road win on Saturday, have lost 10 of their last 15 games. Somehow the team failed to get energized for the Vancouver game last Wednesday and was then completely dominated by the BJs on Friday. Two of the worst, most apathetic, unemotional, sloppy games in recent history. Things are so bad, the Wilds brass signed Todd Fedoruk. (Seriously, Fedoruk??? Is he really going to help?) And according to Mike Russo at the StarTribune, Jacques is pissed and calling out the veterans. All is not well in Wildstown. At this rate, making the playoffs is a fucking dream, my friends.

Last year, Jacques signed a contract extension through the 2009-10 season. But is it time for a new leader? A fresh system? Jacques is known for developing young talent. Maybe he's reached his peak with this team. He's done a lot for the our ice hockey club, no doubt about it. He's built a great foundation. But maybe, just maybe, it's time for a change. Any thoughts?

WILDS UPDATE: The Wilds have a very important 4 game homestand starting tomorrow night against The Yotes. That other Slovak with the groin injury might even play. Unfortunately, Foster is out after taking a slapshot to the face. (Apparently, his forehead is so swollen his helmet doesn't fit.) Nummelin was nearly decapitated last week. Harding's head was crushed against the goalpost. And of course, Koivu's leg is still broken after this happened. Yeah, that creepy Swedish guy was suspended for only 4 games. Yep, the NHL is a fucking joke, per usual.



(image) Pretty much what the Wilds looked like last night. Ish.

The BJs up next. Happy Thanksgiving!

Aggressive Hockey is Back in Town!!!!


(image) Remember the movie Slapshot? When Reg Dunlop pays the ambulance driver to do laps around the arena with the sirens blaring?? Yeah, that's pretty much what it will be like at the Xcel when the Canucks play the Wilds tonight. (Seriously, how awesome would it be if they had a couple ambulances driving up and down West 7th St.?!?!)

If you haven't already, read Mike Russo's story in the StarTribune today. It's excellent and sums up all the shit-talking from both teams. In the understatement of the year, Russo got this quote out of Brian Rolston:

"Any time a guy takes a two-hander and breaks another guy's leg, things are bound to get heated."

Yeah, I totally agree, Brian. Things will probably get a little heated tonight. On a serious note, this is why hockey is so great. In what other sport do players get to say these things??? It's just the best. So in anticipation of tonight's game, here's a Mr. Derek Boogaard "Greatest Hits" video I found on YouTube. (You should at least watch the first clip. Trust me.) Even Little PMB is talking shit, that's how tense this matchup will be tonight. Oh man, I would give anything to watch Little PMB take on Pinky or the Brain.

(object) (embed)

Mike Brown: Taking One for the Team


(image) In the continuing saga of Mikko Koivu and the Attack of the Killer Swede, the always classy Vancouver Canucks (think Todd Bertuzzi, Brad May, Matt Cooke) called up minor league tough guy, Mike Brown, yesterday (that's him taking a shot to the ribs). The move is clearly in anticipation of the rematch with the Wilds on Wednesday night.

So who is this Mike Brown, you ask? He's the guy lucky enough to be thrown into the fire Wednesday night. Are the Wilds worried about Mike Brown? Umm, no. The thing is, Mike Brown has played in exactly 0 NHL games (although he has racked up a healthy number of penalty minutes playing for the Manitoba Moose). In a handful of preseason games with the Canucks, Mike has been involved in 4 fights. And his opponents aren't exactly impressive:
  • Jeff Friesen - Really, Jeff Friesen? Everyone knows Friesen doesn't fight. According to, Friesen's had 1 NHL fight. But I guess you have to start somewhere, right?

  • Matt Greene - Greene, the dooshy oaf D-man from the Oilers, is a step in the right direction. Kind of.

  • Jean-Francois Jacques - Mike, you fought a guy named Jean-Francois Jacques? You're not getting a lot of street cred with that one. Just saying...

  • Kent Huskins - I think we all remember Huskins from the playoffs last year. He dropped the gloves with Adam Hall and needed both Shawn Thornton and Brad May to help him out.

What's the point here? Well, Mike Brown is about to go from wrestling around on the ice with Kent Huskins to facing off against Mr. Derek Boogaard in his first NHL game. Is this the big opportunity he was hoping for? Probably not. I wonder how he'll sleep on Tuesday night. I think of him more as a sacrificial lamb, like a peace offering to the Wilds and Mr. Boogaard.

OTHER WILDS NEWS: This article by Scott Burnside of pretty much sums up the NHL and its lame suspension policy.

Pinky and Brain vs. Mr. Derek Boogaard


(object) (embed)

Last Friday night in Vancouver, the Wilds were thoroughly humiliated by the Canucks in a 6-2 loss. It was terrible and, apparently, physical. By now, you've all heard that Mikko Koivu was chopped down by Swedish thug, Mattias Ohlund. The video of the incident is above. But it's like I always say, you can never trust a Swede with a stick. Koivu, who is Finnish, presumably knows this. However, he made a grave mistake by turning his back on Ohlund after attempting to deliver a flying elbow. Then, WHACK!!! Ohlund laid the old two-hander on him. From the video we can see that Ohlund is no stranger to swinging an axe. I mean, that shit was straight out of the Great Outdoor Games (that's Ohlund in the middle under the alias Laurence O' Toole...I think). Perhaps, Ohlund didn't take the pre-game sauna to calm his nerves (also pictured: Naslund and those creepy twins). That was a mistake.

Unfortunately for Koivu and the Wilds, his fibula is cracked. So Mikko will be out at least one week. Ohlund was suspended for 4 games. The suspension seems fair. Of course, if Ohlund had actually amputated Koivu's left foot with the slash, I think the NHL would need to reevaluate its suspension criteria. Anyway, that means Ohlund won't be playing against the Wilds in St. Paul on Wednesday night, which I'm sure he's relieved about. Mr. Boogaard is already licking his chops.

In what is the funniest thing to come out of all this drama, Boogaard speculated to the Vancouver Sun that he might, "go out and slash Naslund or Pinky and the Brain twins". Hilarious. Wait? Who are Pinky and the Brain twins? Cartoon characters. Wikipedia says, "Pinky and Brain are genetically enhanced lab mice who reside in a cage in the Acme Labs research facility". Hmmm, that's not far off what Wikipedia says about the Sedin Twins - "Henrik and Daniel are genetically enhanced Swedish hockey players who reside in a cage in the Vancouver hockey arena, GM Place". Come to think of it, the resemblance is striking...Pinky and Brain - the Sedin Twins.

I really, really can't wait to see what happens on Wednesday night. Pinky and the Brain twins. Oh Derek, you kill me with your comedy!

Other Wilds News: Oh yeah, the Wilds beat up on Colorado yesterday afternoon, 4-1. Some guys named Matt Foy and Aaron Voros scored for the Wilds. Who the hell are these guys? Whatever. I like it.

Wilds continue domination of Edmonton Junior B team


(image) Okay, okay. I kid. That wasn't a Junior B team you saw last night. It was the real Edmonton Oilers! In any case, the Wilds beat them for the 15th time in 19 tries, or so says Mike Russo at the StarTribune. Our newest and most favorite French Canadian, Eric Be-Lan-Jer (seen at left!), had a team record 4 assists. Even Marian Gaborik played last night, which was nothing short of a miracle. And he scored. I guess that's what they pay him for. You know, when he's actually playing.

NEXT UP: The Wilds travel to beautiful Vancouver for a game against the Canucks tonight. I only know a couple things about the Canucks:

1. Roberto Luongo is enormous. If you need a reason why goal scoring is down in the NHL, look no further. This guy covers the entire fucking net just standing there.

2. Those robot twins really creep me out. Enough said, I think.

The Northwest Division: Can we be done with this already?


Hey guess what? The Wilds play the Oilers tonight...again. That'll be the fourth time this year, which means more than 20% of the Wilds games to date have featured the Edmonton Oilers, one of the top 5 worst teams in the NHL. I just want to thank the NHL for setting up such a great schedule because God knows I have no interest in watching teams like Montreal, New York, or Buffalo. Hell, I'd rather watch the Wilds take on Florida than the fucking Oil for the fourth time. Watching Alex Hemsky pussyfoot all over the ice is just killing me.

Wait there's more! Tonight's game will also be the 10th Northwest Division game the Wilds play this year. Yep, that's 10 games out of 18. So more than half their games have been played against Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado, or Vancouver. And luckily for Wilds fans, we watch the second lowest scoring division in the NHL, the Northwest!!! Hooraaay!! The only the division scoring fewer goals is the Atlantic. So that's great. Seriously, I can't take another divisional game. I don't even get excited to watch. It's like, "Oh. The Oil. Great."

WILDS NEWS: The Great Slovakian Groin might play tonight, but then again he might not. And it's waaaaay to early to tell if he'll play tomorrow night at Vancouver (yep, another Northwest Division game). So, you know, if you're planning on seeing lots of goals tonight, don't count on it. Learn more about the Oilers, a once great franchise, here.

Bettman & Satellite Radio: Who didn't see this coming?


(image) In what has already been widely reported, Gary "Smug Prick" Bettman will host a live call-in show on XM Satellite Radio, called "NHL Hour". Bettman is one of the most hated figures in all of sports. No one knows how he has kept his job. Oh wait, the owners like him because they make lots and lots of money. (Guess what, Owners? You'd make more money if your games weren't hidden away in the deep, dark depths of cable TV hell. Read, Versus Channel.) On all other fronts, Bettman has been a complete and utter failure. He's a fool who doesn't understand hockey or its fans. What a dick.
Anyway, I've been trying to think of some questions for him and this is all I could come up with:
  • Bettman! Why are you such a smug prick?

  • Gary, every Monday night it takes me 15 minutes of wading through channels like Hallmark, Oxygen, and CSPAN3 before I finally find Versus. Seriously, you didn't think of this?? Versus is on channel 92!! That's not even an easy number to remember. Fuck.

  • How could you possibly suck at your job this much? How?? Tell me right now.

  • Gary, I hate you. Explain.

WILDS UPDATE: Since I've been away the Wilds are 2-3 and 2-5-1 in their last 8. That's not good. This guy is still out with a groin. Oh and so is this guy. And these guys are our best players. So that's too bad. The Wilds take on the Flames tonight in Cal-Gary.

While I'm Gone...


(object) (embed) Check these guys out. The 2 Man Advantage. Its the best show not on TV, if that makes any sense. It should keep you busy until I get back next week. I don't know why Versus hasn't picked up this show!! If you only have 45 seconds to spare, I highly recommend this clip. Or this one.

WILDS UPDATE: You probably don't know this, but Sidney Crosby plays the Wilds tonight. Thursday, it's the Blues and Saturday the Flamers. Let's just hope for a win. And here's to hoping the groins stay clean and healthy. Ish.

Honey, Come Over Here and Pull My Groin Again, Would Ya?


(image) If you placed a bet before the season started that Marion Gaborik wouldn't make it 10 games without injuring his (very valuable) groin muscle, you would have been...wrong. He made it through the 10th game, but not the 11th. Oh and Pavol Demitra and Nik Backstrom have groin problems, too. Yikes! Take it easy on the old butterfly stretch, fellas (is that Wes Walz???)!

Unfortunately, that's pretty much our 3 best players. So who's groin will be next to go? Take the poll to the right. (My pick is Keith Carney. After the hip replacement during the offseason, you gotta think the groin is the next thing to go.)

WILDS UPDATE: A loss in the Sunshine State. The Wilds slogged through a 3-1 loss to the Avs. To stay it was uninspiring would be about right. Let's hope Cal Clusterfuck, er Fluttercluck, or whatever can provide a spark against the Pens on Tuesday.

Keegan's Pub: Not a hockey bar, apparently


(object) (embed)
Well, I tried to find the crappiest home-video footage of last night's shootout loss to the Oilers AND I succeeded. Enjoy! If you can even stand to watch the entire 1 minute and 5 seconds of this shitty video, you'll (kind of) see the garbage goal Alex Hemsky scored to win the game. Ish.

The shootout loss for the Wilds brings their record to, a still decent, 7-1-2. (Hey Keegan's Pub, you get that??? 7-1-2 not 7-0-1-2! I went to trivia last night and one of the questions was "What is the Wild's record in the StarTribune this morning?" Like I don't know that! The trivia guru tried to tell me the Wild record was 7-0-1-1 or some shit. Umm that's wrong - that's prelockout recordkeeping. The NHL goes by Win, Loss, & Shootout Loss. Honestly. Don't ask the question if you don't know fucking answer!)

Next Up: The Wilds travel to beautiful Denver. I guess the World Series is there or something - some team called the Red Sox is playing...

The Wilds hope Edmonton fans can keep the tears to a minimum tonight


(image) Let's just address this right off, that's not Jesus Christ. That's a picture Ryan Smyth dressed up like Jesus Christ. Why? Wait, let's back up, who the fuck is Ryan Smyth??? Good question. If you're not a hockey fan or from Canada, you don't know him. Ryan Smyth used to be an Edmonton Oiler. He was the captain. He was the heart and soul of Edmonton for many, many years. It didn't matter that he was ugly and goofy in that backwoods sorta way, (or that he had a lot of cold sores on his face). The Oilers fans loved him.

Well, Oilers fans were reminded that hockey is a business when the Oilers traded him hours before the trade deadline expired, last season. (Maybe they forgot about Wayne Gretzky leaving for LA, I don't know.) You could hear the cries of pain and sorrow from Dallas to Nashville (ok, not really since those cities could give a shit about Ryan Smyth, but you get the idea). Anyway, Smyth finished the season playing for the Islanders and the Oilers languished and generally sucked for the remainder of the year. After the season, Smyth, a free agent, signed a contract with the Colorado Avalanche, who happen to be in the same division as the Oilers. Basically, it was high drama and one big cosmic mindfuck on Oilers fans who, coincidentally, will see a lot more of Ryan Smyth now that he plays for the Avs.

What's the point? Well, Oilers fans are still crying about losing Ryan Smyth. He recently made his first appearance in Edmonton since being traded and it opened up all sorts of old, rotting wounds. Apparently, he's some kind of big deal up there still. They call him "Captain Canada" or something. They superimpose his face on our Lord and Savior (also, they do bad charcoal sketches). They even write sonnets about him. Here's an excerpt:

"Baptismal fonts flow with oil refined,
And so, with oil, is Smyth's rebirth entwined."

--From Sonnet #94 (That's Smyth's number. Clever, eh?)

To tell you the truth, it's all a little embarrassing. I mean, I don't remember getting all emotional when the Wild traded away Pascal Dupuis or Manny Fernandez or worse, Todd White. I mean honestly Oilers fans have some self-respect. This is hockey. Toughen up. Are you really going to cry about it every time Ryan Smyth shows up to play some ice hockey??? (More importantly, is Ryan Smyth going to cry about it every time he shows up to play some ice hockey? Jeezus.)

Anyway, the Wilds play the Oilers tonight. Hopefully, everyone in Edmonton can keep it together. Go to Battle of Alberta to see for yourself just how much Edmonton misses Ryan Smyth.

WILDS UPDATE: Holy crap. The buzzsaw that was the Calgary Flames last night. Jeez. I turned on the game and we had a comfortable 3 goal lead in the second. Final score, 5-3 Flames. Ish. Jerome Iginla. I kill you.

Wilds Roll Call: Bienvenue Eric Belanger!


(image) (image) A couple weeks ago, I posted about fresh-faced rookie James Sheppard, whose mommy brought his winter boots all the way from Halifax. Jimmy's had some playing time since then, but has yet to notch his first goal. Because he's just a little baby I'll cut him some slack.

One new face I haven't talked about yet is Mr. Eric Belanger. Eric is from that little known North American country, French Canadia. Or, as Wikipedia says, "a major Canadian hockey centre," whatever that means. The Wilds picked up Belanger (that's Bee-laaan-Jerr if you're from Northern Minnesota or Buh-lawn-jay if you're from French Canadia) in a trade during the offseason. He wears a visor like all other French Canadians (that's what Don Cherry says anyway and Don Cherry is a very smart man), eats poutine, wears a checkered red and black flannel woodsman shirt when he's not playing hockey, and probably dips his fries in mayo (when they're not slathered in gravy and cheese curds of course).

That said, he's a pretty awesome ice hockey player! He's got 7 points in 8 games and is a nifty plus 9. He's been the best player on the ice for the Wilds in a number of games this year and has scored some big goals (2 of them game winners). So, please. Don't tease about about the French Canadia stuff. He's just a good old-fashioned ice hockey player. Nothing more, nothing less.

(About that picture: I can't be 100% sure that's him on the right, but I really, really want it to be. In any case, I know that guy's name is Eric Belanger. I mean, how many Eric Belanger's can there be?? Unfortunately the website was written in French Canadian, so...)

WILDS REPORT: Next up, the Calgary Flamers, tonight at the Saddledome - it's amazing that place is still around. Pavol Demitra is injured, some young kid named Cal Clutterbuck (not kidding) is filling in for him, Gaborik needs to score another goal, and Boogaard needs to throw a couple punches. All this solid defense and great goaltending is getting old. Hopefully, Jacques will loosen things up a bit tonight. Check out the Battle of Alberta for all things Flaming.

Brent Burns Still Sitting in LA Penalty Box


(object) (embed)

The Wilds completed their first West Coast Road Show, going 2-0-1. They got wins against Phoenix and the Mighty Ducks and lost in a shootout against LA. Not a bad week...

Wilds Notables:

Wilds super-Finn goalie, Nik Backstrom, got worked in the shootout, getting scored on 3 straight times. Mike Russo tells us his shootout save percentage is lousy at .433. Ish.

Marion Gaborik (I challenge you to find a better picture of him!) finally scored a goal.

Brent Burns took 5 penalties against the Kings on Tuesday night. My lady-wife was shaming him from the couch, "Bad Burnsie!!! Bad, Bad, Bad!! Sit, Burnsie! No! Stay, Burnsie!!!" Jacques might have to rub his nose in it if Brent "Slobbery Frat Boy" Burns is going to learn to stay out of the box.

Speaking of staying out of the box (not that box, you pervs), the Wilds took 17 penalties in 2 games. If you're not sure, that's a lot of penalties. Luckily the penalty kill was nice!!! What wasn't nice?? The powerplay was really not nice. In fact, the Wilds powerplay is ranked 29th out of 30 teams. The Wilds have a paltry 4.5% conversion rate on the powerplay. Who's ahead of us? Atlanta with a blistering 7.7%. Yes, I'm talking about the Thrashers, the team without a win and who just fired their coach. So guys, how 'bout getting the powerplay together?? Jeezus.

(Sidenote: At one point during the broadcast on Tuesday, color commentator Mike Greenlay actually said: "They really need to get their PP going." Read that aloud to yourself a couple times.)

Finally, word on the street is that Jacques, miffed about all the penalties, is showing the above video in team meetings this week. If I'm not mistaken, this is the instructional video NHL Chief Doosh, Bettman, put out for the refs a couple years ago. That, or it's Brent "Slobbery Frat Boy" Burns playing with his toys again. You decide.

James Sheppard's Winter Boots


(image) Ahh, to be 19-year old Wilds rookie and rising star, James Sheppard. You just got a $85,000 check for signing your first NHL contract. (Oh and by the way, your first NHL contract is worth $2.29 million over 3 years.) You just played in your first NHL game. You didn't fall down coming out onto the ice. You didn't suck and you didn't get your ass kicked. In fact, you played pretty well. Life is GOOD.

But wait it gets better. Your mom flew to Minnesota all the way from Halifax, Nova Scotia (which is closer to Greenland than to St. Paul - I mean, probably) to watch your first NHL game. And because she's your mom, she packed up all the stuff you left in Nova Scotia because you were pretty sure you wouldn't make the team this year. She even packed your winter boots for you. In Mike Russo's StarTribune article, Mrs. Sheppard says:

"Try packing size-15 winter boots; it's quite the challenge."

This is why hockey is great. James Sheppard is making loads of money for a 19-year old kid. He could buy lots of stuff, including new winter boots. But, no. His mom insisted on bringing the winter boots. I can just hear it:

James Sheppard: Mom, I told you, you don't need to bring my winter boots. I can buy new ones!

James Sheppard's Mom: No, James. You're not going to waste your money on new winter boots when your old boots are perfectly fine!!

James Sheppard: But Mom, Keith Carney is going to --

James Sheppard's Mom: James, I won't hear another word about it! I'm bringing your winter boots.

In what other sport does this happen?

On another note, why does he even need winter boots? He's just going to be walking from the St. Paul Hotel to the Xcel or from the charter plane to the charter bus to the nice, downtown team hotel. Right? But that's why hockey's great. These guys (and their moms, apparently) never shake their blue collar, utilitarian, practical upbringing. I guess that's what happens when you grow up in Halifax or say, Regina. Seriously, say it: Regina. Ahahaahaha.

WILDS UPDATE: The Wilds are taking a West Coast roadtrip. Phoenix on Saturday. Mighty Ducks on Sunday (watch out Brad May - Bounty's on your head this time, D-bag). Kings on Tuesday. The big question: Will Marion Gaborik score a goal this season?

Little PMB, you better have a good explanation for this...


(image) As my lady-wife and I watched Adam Foote blast a slapshot over Nick Backstrom's glove in last Saturday's Wilds game, she turned to me and asked, "How do hockey players pick their numbers?" Being an asute sports fan, she knows that in sports like football the numbers players can wear are dictated by the position they play. (For example, offensive and defensive lineman have to wear big numbers like 66 and 98 because it makes them look less fat. Think how ridiculous those 300 pounders would look in, say, number 5? They'd just look extra fat.) Hockey's not lame like that, so players can wear any number they choose.

I told her that, in hockey, number selection all depends on the situation. In my usual longwinded, know-it-all fashion I explained, "For instance, Gretzky wore 99 because his favorite number, 9, was taken when he started out in Juniors. Same with Ray Bourque. He gave up his fav number 7 to Phil Esposito and switched to 77. Some players have better reasons than others. Jaromir Jagr wears number 68 - in honor of the year 1968 when a bunch of political stuff happened in Czechland and the year of his grandfather's death. Others choose the year of their birth, like Sid Crosby number 87. Then you also have guys like Rick Nash who reverse their number. His fav number was 16, but it also was taken in Juniors. So he decided on 61, the number he wears today. See." (I pointed at Nash skating by.)

Without missing a beat, my lady-wife turned to me and said, "So Pierre Marc-Bouchard's favorite number is 69?" (She pointed at Little PMB skating by.)

I swear that is a true story.

Sidenote: Seriously, is "69" Little PMB's favorite number?? God, I hope so.

The Glory that is Pierre Marc-Bouchard


(image) You probably remember how Little PMB got the shaft in last year's Lady Byng Trophy voting. You don't remember that? Weird. (Click here for a Casual Hockey refresher on the Lady Byng Trophy.) He came in 5th place behind Pavol Datsyuk, Martin St. Louis, Joe Sakic, and Jay Pandolfo. I just don't believe that Little PMB is less of a pussy than those guys. I mean just look at that adolescent face! Just a little baby!

In any case, it will thrill you all to know that, after 2 games, Little PMB is on pace for an astonishing 82 goals this season!!! Amazing! Wait, there's more. Little PMB already has 4 penalty minutes. That ties him for 3rd most on the team and only 3 PIMs fewer than Mr. Boogaard! Little PMB had only 14 penalty minutes in all of last season!! He's turning into a goddamn goon out there. Pretty soon, it's going to be Mr. Boogaard and his deputy, Little PMB, patrolling the ice. The rest of the NHL best be prepared! Little PMB probably isn't going to take your shit anymore, Chris Pronger.

Sidenote: By my calculations, Gaborik is on pace for umm...0 goals this season. So let's hope he turns it around real quick.

The Wilds Update: Strong start for Minnesota's favorite NHL team. The Wilds started the season with an amazingly dull 1-0 win against the Blackhawks. Although Boogaard did have a tough scrap with Hawks' goon, David Koci. Then the Wilds followed up with a nice win against the Columbus Blue Jackets, 3-2. (I have to say, Sergei Federov looked awfully old. Aahhh, the good old days...) Next up: The Oilers. Wednesday.

Wild Stanley Cup Parade Scheduled for June 14, 2008!


That's right peoples. Prepare for a Mardi Gras-like celebration when the Wilds drive the Stanely Cup down Nicollet Mall next June. It's gonna be crazy! The Wilds take the first step toward Stanley Cup immortality with the season-opener against the Blackhawks tonight.

In lieu of a season preview from Casual Hockey, here's what the "experts" and bloggers are saying about this year's Minnesota Wilds.

John Buccigross of ESPN says:
"The Wild are on the cusp of Stanley Cup success. They continue to build brick by brick. We'll have to see if those bricks help the Wild get better or stay the same."

"If the blueliners as a whole can improve their contribution to the offence, the Wild should be in better shape. Backstrom is this year's version of Montreal's Cristobal Huet - he was spectacular with half a season under his belt, and all eyes will be on him to carry a full load this season."
Rank: 4th in the West

Note: Who is Cristobal Huet?

James Mirtle (reporter for the Toronto Globe & Mail) says:
"Minnesota also has its youngsters all about to breakout, as their drafting in the early years is just about to pay off with players like Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Mikko Koivu and Brent Burns (who was incredible in preseason). Gaborik easily breaks the 100-point barrier with a healthy season."
Rank: 3rd in the West

"The Wild aren't that cute. They aren't freaks or anything, but not the kinds of dudes who are going to give you the vapors. We'll open with Brian Rolston, who seems to be the closest the Wild have to an older heartthrob. Now, I have no idea why Brian Rolston chooses to have his chin look like a porn star's vagina, but if you can look past that landing strip soul patch thing, he's a nice-looking man."

Rank: Unranked (as far as I can tell)

Note: Sportsquee team previews are absolutely worth reading. She has an exceptional piece on the Calgary Flames, notably Dion Phaneuf. (Seriously, read this.)

Casual Hockey says:

The Wilds win the Cup, beating the New York Rangers in 6 games. You heard it here first. (Probably.)

Reason Number 349 to Hate the Mighty Ducks


(object) (embed)
Corey Perry fights with his visor and helmet on. (Yes, this is the same Corey Perry whose ass was kicked by Brent "Slobbery Fratboy" Burns in last year's playoffs.) Watch Dallas Drake unsnap his chinstrap as Perry just punches him in the face without even thinking about taking off his helmet. Everyone knows that if you wear a visor and you fight, you take off your helmet. It's just the rule. How in the hell is Drake going to land any good punches with that fucking visor on??? This is why Don Cherry hates visors. Because the guys that wear them are generally pussies. You heard it here, Corey Perry is a doosh.

NHL Executives...Still Sucking...


Maybe you didn't know this, but the NHL front office is full of geniuses. Let's highlight their brilliance since the lockout ended:1. Versus - Remember the lockout, when there was no hockey for an entire year? And then, remember when the NHL told ESPN to suck it and put the games on the Versus channel so no one would watch? That didn't work out too good. On Versus, formerly the Outdoor Life Channel (OLN), programming is still dominated by duck hunters, triathletes, and Ted Nugent. And luckily, it's still on channel 174. So even if you wanted to watch hockey, you'd have to find the fucking channel in the deep, dark depths of cable TV hell. On the plus side: Versus did catch Snoop Dog at a playoff game last year.Result? Possibly the worst decision of any major sports league. Ever. Word on the street is the NHL is crawling back to ESPN.2. Schedule - In another brilliant post-lockout move, the NHL decided everyone would be better off if teams play half their games against divisional opponents and only 10 games against teams in the other conference. The idea was that increasing the number games against divisional opponents would create rivalries or something. Well, that was a terrible idea because mostly it just looked like the teams grew tired of seeing each other out there. I actually heard some kid whine to his dad, "But daddy, I don't want to watch the Oilers again!"Result? Bettman and the rest of the owners decided that was a pretty bad idea and changed back to the old schedule.3. New Jerseys - During last year's all-star weekend (which included musical groups Robert Randolph & the Family Band, The Wreckers, and The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. I'm serious.) the NHL and Reebok unveiled fancy new jerseys that are supposed to make the players lighter and faster and better or something. By the way, isn't that the same marketing campaign as the Reebok Pump sneaker? Instead, they sure came up with some ugly jerseys for this season. Check them all out here. Result? The jerseys are ripping during fights. Derek Boogaard is kind of pissed about it too, because they enable him to actually kill people (which could possibly warrant a suspension longer than 5 games). You know, instead of just collapsing people's skulls, like what happened to Todd Fedoruk - (this is from Wiki: "Fedoruk...had titanium plates permanently embedded into his face" after fighting Boogaard). As Boogaard eloquently said:"Oh well. If somebody gets hurt, it's Reebok's fault. They're the ones that told us it wasn't going to rip." You hear that Gary? Boogaard doesn't care if he kills people. It's Reebok's fault. 4. Season Opener in London - No, not London, Ontario. London, England. I still don't understand this from a marketing standpoint. Why do this? In England?? I have so many questions about this I almost can't handle it. Result? I'm not talking about it anymore. Fuck.Like I said, NHL fans are truly lucky to have such great stewards of the game. But honestly, you look back at some of these decisions and it makes you wonder who the hell is steering this ship.In other news, the Wilds start the season on Thursday and my wife is really looking forward to seeing Burns and Rolston on the ice together. What a perv.[...]

Preseason brawls; DiPietro tugs on it in the crease


(object) (embed)
Everyone loves a good, old-fashioned hockey brawl. Especially, when the goalies go at it. The brawl in the clip above is from last night's Islanders/Rangers game. Oh yeah, and it's still the preseason. Who said the preseason doesn't mean anything? Honestly.

You know it's hockey season when quotes like this start showing up in the New York Times, "Orr fought Kip Brennan, and Hollweg and Simon tangled. Rangers forward Jason Strudwick, who fought Brennan in the first period, jumped Simon." Talk about a clusterfuck. And speaking of clusterfucks, if you read the AP story about the brawl, you might have wondered if you were actually reading about some hot homoerotic action, rather than, say, a hockey game. These are real quotes from the article:

"Simon charged Hollweg from behind..."

"Jeremy Colliton and Andy Hilbert...drifted toward DiPietro's crease."

"DiPietro grabbed Strudwick from behind and gave several tugs..."

"Strudwick fell on Hilbert, and DiPietro kept pulling..."

"The two came together...jawed, and exchanged stick jabs."
Am I immature and sophomoric in my humor? Probably. But, I didn't write that shit. I mean, I guess this is the "new" NHL and everything. Maybe the NHL is the gay man's answer to the WNBA. Maybe this all a part of Gary Bettman's master plan...

Also, the Wilds win 2-1 over Buffalo, in a game played in beautiful Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Reason Number 237 to Hate the Mighty Ducks


Ryan Getzlaf, Center, Mighty Ducks of Anahiem.
Stanley Cup Champion at age 22.

So naturally, what's the first thing you do? You take it back to Regina and pose under a goddamn waterfall?? In that electric blue shirt?? Are you serious?

This picture is Canada's take on Glamour Shots. (Remember Glamour Shots? Yikes.) Doesn't he have a handler or something? Someone to say, "Um, Ryan. Posing for that picture. Yeah, not a good idea." Or, "Hey Ryan. You know, there's no assurance you're going to win the Cup again, so you might not want to look like a total doosh in those pictures you're taking. Just FYI." Apparently not. I blame this on Gary Bettman.

In other news, the Wilds first game is only 10 days away...

Brent Burns fights when you tell him to fight and not a moment sooner


(object) (embed) Above, please fondly remember the highlight of the 2007 NHL Playoffs: a boyish Brent Burns repeatedly punching a Mighty Ducks d-bag in the face. This season, Burns is the Wild's great hope on the blueline since Keith Carney is bound to have a hip replacement surgery (or two) sometime in the next 6 months. Burns also has a habit of showing up in my wife's dreams, along with Brian Rolston. She describes him as a "slobbering frat boy," which I guess is a compliment. Right?

Anyway thanks to a great feature from Wild beatwriter, Mike Russo, we learn that Brent Burns was actually a little bit of a pussy before he beat up Chris Kunitz in the clip above. Also, his dad, mom, and pretty much all his pals back in Ajax, Ontario thought he was being kind of a pussy too. From Russo's story:
"For years, Burns' father told him it was time to fight. Burns' buddies back home always made fun of him for not dropping his gloves."
(Coincidentally, this is straight from the movie "Youngblood" where Rob Lowe plays this prima donna who won't fight and doesn't get any respect from his teammates, coach, or even his dad. So Youngblood's dad has to teach him to fight and then he fights the goon, Carl Racki, after he scores the game winner on a penalty shot. So, it's a pretty complex plot.)

Back to Brent Burns. After he fights Kunitz, Burns decides that he probably better fight Corey Perry two games later, just for good measure. You can see that fight here. So, everyone is thinking, "Wow. What's gotten into Burns? He's a tough guy now?" But as it turns out, Burns only fought Perry because some guy in the stands told him to. From Russo:
"I only dropped the gloves because a guy in the second row yelled, 'Fight him! Fight him!" Burns said.
Well that's good to hear. Because whenever I'm at a game it doesn't seem like the players are listening to me. (Like when I yelled at Ozzie Guillen that he was a doosh as he was walking to the dugout. Amazingly, he didn't even acknowledge me.) But rest assured, Brent Burns is listening! And even better, he'll actually do what you tell him. So I hope all Wild fans will make a point of yelling, "Fight him!!! Fight him!!" whenever he's on the ice this season.
"I should have done this my first year. It took me four years to drop my purse." Burns said.
I don't really understand what that means, but I like it a whole lot.