January 28, 2012

Alexander Ovechkin from Show Boat to No-Show

The NHL All-Star game is a go tonight without the crown prince of show boating.  Of course I am referring to Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.  Looks like Ovie who was suspended for three games by the NHL has taken his circus to South Beach. It seems the sun and fun in Miami is a good place to heal your wounds and faltering ego.

We got to give to the man (or boy).  He knows how to squeeze the press and it appears that although all the big boys in the NHL are in Ottawa; Ovie  has managed to snag some face time while dipping his toes in the Atlantic.  Real fans don't seem to give a flying you know what and the show marches on without him.

We will all miss his flash and panache but rest assured someone else will step and reach for Ovie's crown.  This was a bad PR move by the Russian rocket and it will cost him in the end. I hope he gets a comfy seat and he watches the whole game with a pina colada in his hand.  He is going to need it once he realizes he has made an ass of himself and cost himself some big dollars in the process.

January 27, 2012

Logan Couture - Great guys do finish last

The NHL is a very unforgiving league.  Fans cheer and then they forget.  Managers go to bat for you and then they let you sink.  Scott Gomez , Jose Theodore, and Michael Ryder all know what I am talking about.  NHLers are always being singled out by the media, their employers and their fans.  Rejection and derision make you stronger in the NHL and if you survive, you can earn the fat pay checks that confirm you as a star. 

There is a new twist on rejection in the NHL and the "worse" of the best seem destined to endure it for the foreseeable future. The crack marketing team at the NHL has decided in their wisdom to do away with traditional splits for the All-Star clash and now they now let team captain pick teams. Yes indeed, a child's game which is played by men is now being triaged in a big-boy version of the traditional back yard pick-see strategy.

This new All-Star madness was spotlighted at last year's game when Phil Kessel was picked last for 2011 version of the game.  The media ate it up and Kessel lived with that tag all season.  He was only able to shake it off this year when he came out of the gate screaming and led the NHL in scoring.

Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks was the unfortunate soul who was picked last in this year's edition of the All-Star game.  Don't feel too bad for young Logan. If recent history is any indication Couture should have a hell of a season in 2013-2014.

I guess this is the one occasion where it is good or even excellent to come in last.  I will be watching this year's All-Star game to see Logan Couture in action.  I think anyone reading this should also pencil in the young man as a pick for their fantasy team for the 2013-2014 edition of the NHL season.

Bruins Love the Habs ?

The heated rivalry between the Bruins and Habs is the stuff of legends.  Cashman , O'Reilly, Lafleur and Robinson represented that rivalry for the modern hockey fan and guys like Chara and Subban have kept up that tradition to this day.

That was true until January 27th, 2012.

Last night was the official thawing of tensions between the two power houses.  In front of a packed house; Zdeno Chara picked Carey Price for his squad in this year's All-Star game.  This pick was the highlight of the NHL's 2012 love fest (All-Star game).

It seems official now that the Bruins love the Habs. This seismic shift in hockey etiquette and tradition caught Carey Price by surprise and shocked the daylights out of the Habs and Bruins faithful.  The dark black line has officially been crossed and the question is where do we go from here.   Is the hand holding at this year's All-Star going to lead to an easing of tensions between Montreal and Boston ?  What's next ?

How about Subban and Horton going for a coffee ?

Maybe Tyler Seguin and Zdeno Chara can have streets named after them in downtown Montreal ?

This move by Chara was a downer for everyone who lives for rivalries in the NHL.  An Original Six rivalry is the backbone of the NHL.  It is good for fans and good for the NHL.

Hopefully, things will get back to normal and these foes will get back to "hating".  Sugar and spice and everything nice has no place in the HL.  Not even at the love fest which is the NHL All-Star game.

January 26, 2012

EPL Gears Up for the Stretch

As the Steeldogs boarded the bus for the Thursday night trip over the Pennines to Manchester they welcomed a new face. Raivis Kurnigins joins the Steeldogs for the remainder of the season from Latvian league side JLSS Zemgele where he had scored 17 times this season.

Kurnigins joins the team with fellow Latvian sniper Janis Ozolins a fan favourite at Ice Sheffield already. The Steeldogs also announced the signing for academy player and Great Britain Under 18 player Shaun Wild who will also be in the side in time for the clash with the Phoenix.

The Steeldogs signings mark the start of the end for the EPL season and this season it is closer than ever. Going into Thursday game between the Manchester Phoenix and the Sheffield Steelers the top 5 were separated by 6 points with about 20 of the 54 game season remaining.

The Guildford Flames still top the league and remain slight favourites for the title following Sundays win against the unbeaten in 9 Manchester Phoenix. The Phoenix’s run over the new period, which included wins over fellow title chasers Milton Keynes, Guildford, Sheffield and Slough had lifted them back into contention. However in a tight chasing pack the Manchester Phoenix currently lie 4th one spot ahead of tonight’s opponents Sheffield but level on points with the Slough Jets.

Slough’s rink problems over last weekend had led to the postponement of their scheduled home game which meant that the third place Jets slip 4 points behind the Flames but with a game in hand over their Surrey rivals. Milton Keynes on the other hand lies 2nd in the table level on games played with the Flames but 3 points behind and with a new signing of their own in the team.

This situation makes it all to play for and the Steeldogs moves in the transfer market make it clear they mean business heading down the stretch. Whether it will make the difference for the Yorkshire club is a difficult question. A set of legs on the bench will freshen the team up but if they don’t gel together quickly (and Kurnigins doesn’t speak English) things could go wrong.

Momentum will be key for the eventual 2012 champions. Manchester’s 10 game winning streak proves that any team out side of the top two this year can make some ground to challenge the top. However they will need to keep it going whilst those at the top now will know they cannot afford to drop points.

Crucially Slough’s rink problem last weekend could proof to be the difference.
With a game in hand they can move up the standings quickly but it is an extra game to fit in.  All eyes in the EPL playoff race will be on the last three weeks when Manchester face Guildford, Sheffield and Slough. Whilst the last weekends fixtures sees Guildford hosting the Steeldogs and a home and home series between the Milton Keynes Lightning and the Slough Jets.

The game in Manchester was a typical feisty war of roses match up. There were penalties a plenty but the break through game in the third period when Duggan, Cingel and Koulikov netted to give the Phoenix a 3 – 0 win.

That moves the Manchester outfit up to 2nd in the table now 2 points behind the Guildford Flames who have 2 games in hand.

Neil Tucker

Thomas and Ovechkin - NHL Cry Babies

Professional athletes are often self absorbed and perfectionist bent on excellence. The nightly cheering from fans goes right to their heads and they start to believe their own BS.  We saw that phenomena play out front and center in the NHL this week with Tim Thomas and Alexander Ovechkin imposing and projecting their needs and opinions on fans who really don't care.  I think I speak for many NHL diehards when I say to Thomas and Ovechkin; grow up, entertain the fans and be professional.  Playing in the NHL is an honor and a privilege. 

Tim Thomas stepped into the limelight this week when he refused to attend a ceremony at The White House held in honour of the Boston Bruins and their Stanley Cup victory last season.  We covered Thomas's bungled attempt at being an activist in this story.

It is pretty evident that Thomas has forgotten that he is a hockey player representing a team and a city.  The Bruins goalie seems to be pretty convinced that we should care that he hates the office of the Presidency of the United States of America.  If he is so concerned about the integrity of the political process perhaps he should stop playing a kids game and make some sort of run for office.  The "Tea Party" antics don't belong in nets; they should be addressed in a normal and relevant arena. Not a hockey arena.

Ovechkin was equally as bad with his refusal to play in the NHL All-Star game.  The moody Russian star has been on a downward slide for the last couple seasons and most would agree that his attitude is now much bigger than his talent.  Alex tried to decapitate an opponent recently and the NHL handed down a three game suspension.

The NHL makes the rules and Ovechkin should be man enough to honor the rules of the league which made him a mega star and multi millionaire.  That was not the case for this pampered blow hard.  He made noise when he got the suspension, stomped around like a child, and then decided to sit out the All-Star game.  That's right.  Once again an NHLer with an over sized pay check is penalizing fans by sitting out what is supposed to be a game of the world's elite hockey players.  

Thomas and Ovechkin are the poster children for greed and NHL fans need to find two new heroes that have not been spoiled by success.  Good luck with that.  Unfortunately, Thomas and Ovechkin seem to be the rule and not the exception.  Sad but true.  Hmmmm....

GetRealHockey Family hits Pinterest

It looks like we have found an exciting new way of sharing the GetRealHockey vibe.  We invite all our readers to visit us on Pinterest @

Pinterest is an exciting new online community with a large contingent of dedicated followers.  The site has some very cool hockey pics if that's your thing (wink, wink !!).

GetRealHockey's pins can also be found on our Facebook page @

This Facebook link is very active.  We have followers who play in the NHL like Mike Richards (LA Kings) and Phil Kessel (Toronto Maple Leafs).

We are excited by what is happening with GetRealHockey.  The re-launch of the site is in progress.

The new site will offer the best NHL VIP experiences in the business; so stay tuned.

In the meantime enjoy the cool GetRealHockey theme song.

January 24, 2012

The Latest on the Penguins Organization

Remember not that long ago when the Penguins had lost 6-straight games and the fans were ready to doom the season?  Those thoughts have since been silenced by 6-straight wins, including victories over the 1st place New York Rangers and the hated rival Washington Capitals.  Undoubtedly a huge part of the turnaround is the stellar play of All-Star center Evgeni “Geno” Malkin.  Malkin has an ability rarely seen; he can take complete control of a game like few others.  “Geno” has taken the team on his back, become a favorite for the Hart Trophy, and has left players, coaches, and fans scratching their heads wondering how did he do that?  Throughout the years, Pittsburgh has been blessed with players with this ability such as Lemieux, Jagr, and a healthy Crosby. Now Malkin continues to show why he belongs on that list.  Malkin has propelled into the NHL scoring lead with 58 points (26 goals-32 assists).  Although Crosby’s season is still in question, the return of All-Star defensemen Kris Letang should help the Pens continue to climb in the standings as they currently sit 6th in the East.

The Pittsburgh Penguins weren’t the only Penguins winning 6-straight games.  Their AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have not only won 6 in a row, they’ve also won 8 of their last 10.  During those 10 games, Defensemen and Pens 2007 4th round draft pick Alex Grant racked up 2 goals and 12 assists and was a +3.  Grant (22) only played in 4 AHL games last season but was part of the Wheeling Nailers run to the ECHL conference Finals.  Alex isn’t the only player emerging for the Pens.  Second year pro and former Wisconsin Badger Ben Street has been outstanding.  Street was the ECHL rookie of the year a season ago, tallying 51 points in 38 games before joining the Wilkes-Barre and racking up 23 points in 36 games.  So far this season Street is third on the team with 31 points (15 goals-16 assists).  The “Baby” Pens are currently tied for 1st place in the East Division. 

The Penguins ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers are also having a good season.  The Nailers are 5-3-2 in their last 10 and currently sit 2nd in the Atlantic Division, 8 points back of Elmira.  Wheeling plays Elmira 8 more times which gives them plenty of opportunity to retake 1st place and better solidify their playoff position.  The Nailers are led by rookie forward Chris Barton who leads the team and is second among ECHL rookies with 38 points (21 goals-17 assists).  The Nailers are backstopped by Canadians prospect Peter Delmas and Penguins 2008 6th round pick Patrick Killeen.  Killeen notched his first shutout of the season and 4th of his ECHL career Friday January 20th against Toledo in a 3-0 win.  The ECHL All-Star of a year ago is 10th in the ECHL with 12 wins and is 11th with a 2.83 GAA.    Off the ice, the team is for sale and its future is uncertain but on the ice the Nailers continue to impress.  

By Andrew Grimm

Tim Thomas Tarnishes Image With White House Snub

Today, Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas put himself in front of his team, league and country by making a self-righteous political statement instead of attending a White House ceremony to honor the Bruins' Stanley Cup victory last season. In boycotting this event he selfishly stole the attention away from his teammates and the entire Bruins organization on a day that should have been a diplomatic, nonpartisan celebration of an amazing achievement in professional sports.

Championship sports teams have been honored in Washington by countless administrations over the years. It doesn't matter if there is a Democrat or Republican in the Oval Office, political disagreements have never entered the picture. That is until now. This is not about President Barack Obama, but respecting the office of the president of the United States of America. Tim Thomas may have exercised his right as a "Free Citizen," as he posted on his Facebook page, but that does not excuse his actions. He represents an organization that is paying him millions of dollars. He represents the National Hockey League that is trying to broaden its appeal into minority communities.  And as one of only two Americans on the team, he represents this country (players from Canada, Slovakia, Finland and other nations were honored to be at the White House with President Obama). 

There is a time and place for political protests. This was not one of them. Sports are supposed to be an escape from everything that divides us. It is supposed to be a safe place free of partisan politics. Today, Tim Thomas broke that sacred trust and it will take a long time for those wounds to heal. 

- Josh Marks

January 23, 2012

The Get Real Guide to the Hull Stingrays

Home: Hull Arena, Kingston-Upon-Hull, Yorkshire

Colours: White, Yellow, Blue

Founded: 2003

The Hull Stingrays may not be regarded as the most glamorous club in the EIHL but they are side that has come through against adversity to survive at the top level.

Like their Scottish counterparts in Edinburgh and Dundee the Stingrays represent the latest incarnation of ice hockey in the city of Hull. The Stingrays predecessors date back to 1988 when the Humberside Seahawks became members of the British league. Since then until 2003 though there were many changes including the name and the ownership.

In 2003 the Hull Thunder were bought out by the Peck family and became the Hull Stingrays replacing the Thunder in the British National League. Following the collapse of the BNL 2005 the Stingrays moved to the English Premier League. It was not a popular move with the increased travel involved and lower standard of hockey. After one season the forward looking Peck family applied for membership of the Elite League in 2006. The Stingrays took to the ice in the EIHL that September and became the first British team to play in 3 senior levels of the sport.

It was a difficult first two seasons for the Stingrays who missed the playoffs both years finishing 9th and 10th but in 2010 the Stingrays finished 8th and made the playoffs for the first time. It was short-lived success however.

In August of that year just weeks before the start of the season the Peck family closed the club down stating the club was not financially viable and it took a rescue package from the Coventry Blaze to resurrect the club in time for the new season. Despite playing 10 games in 20 days to finish the season in order to make up for missing the start the Stingrays recorded their best ever season. They finished the season in 7th place and made the playoffs.

That good form carried over into the preseason for the 2011 – 2012 season as the side picked up the P&O Ferries Cup for a tournament victory against the Coventry Blaze and Dutch sides the Tilburg Trappers and the Geleen Eaters. That promise did not quite show through into the season as the Stingrays endured a torrid start to the season before picking some points to currently occupy the last playoff spot.

The Hull Stingrays are a club that has persevered through difficult financial situations to produce a team on the ice every season that has at least been competitive. They are proof that whilst not a high-flying glamour side or a traditional hockey town that ice hockey has a following in the UK. In many ways the Hull Stingrays show why there is a need for reform in the EIHL in order to help them and other teams on a tiny budget to compete a little bit easier.

The future perhaps is not clear with the money problems in Coventry but the Stingrays have been in the same situation before and come through it.


Neil Tucker

Quack Quack ...Ducks Headed North !!!

Usually Ducks migrate south in the winter, however, the Ducks of the NHL have been doing the exact opposite, as they have been heading North in the NHL standings. They haven’t been using  tricks like the “Flying-V” or “knuckle-pucks”, the Ducks are simply using the combination of an explosive attack, and timely goaltending. That combination has made the Ducks the hottest team in the NHL since the holidays.

Just over 2 weeks ago, the Ducks were in a state of complete disarray, they were in the basement of the NHL standings, and reports were rampant that the Ducks superstars were available for trade, after the owner said the only untouchables were those with NTC’s. Just when it seemed almost certain that either Getzlaf or Ryan were going to be shipped off before the deadline, this team completely changed directions. Since Jan 6th, the Ducks have played 9 games, and have collected 17 out of a possible 18 points by posting a record of 8-0-1! In those 9 games, they have outscored opponents 36-16, that means they have scored 4 goals a game and allowed less than 2 goals per game, so not only have the Ducks been winning, but they have been doing it in convincing fashion. Selanne has continued his great play this season, as he has been one of the only Ducks to not have a down year. Jason Blake has come back from injury and paid immediate dividends putting up 4 goals and 6 points in his last 5 games. But what has really been the key of this recent tear Anaheim has been on, is the re-emergence of  the Ryan/Getzlaf/Perry line as one of the NHL’s most lethal trio’s. In the last 9 games the three have combined for 15 goals, 13 assists and 28 points! Apparently trade rumors was exactly what the Ducks needed, because ever since the team’s stars found out they were expendable, they have done their very best to show management why they were considered the cornerstones of the franchise just a few months ago. When you combine the great play of the top line, with the incredible effort that they are getting from Hiller on the backend, there is no reason to believe that this run will not continue. Hiller has played in 8 of those 9 games, and has allowed only 11 goals over that span! The Ducks have been scoring plenty so they could have afforded some poor goaltending performances; however, Hiller has still managed to shut the door during those games. Last night’s 3-2 win over the Avalanche was perhaps Hiller’s best performance as he saved 43 out of the 45 shots he faced, and essentially stole 2 points for the Ducks, as they were outshot 45-18! Whenever you see a team that could steal 2 points with great goaltending, and also manage to score 4 goals a game in other contests, it is a very good sign of more wins to come. The Ducks are firing on all cylinders, and the recent dominance they have showed is reminding me a lot of the New Jersey Devils run last season. Although the Devils came up short despite being nearly unbeatable to close out the season, the Ducks might have a better chance because they started this run earlier. They currently sit 11 points behind the 8th place Avalanche, however, the Ducks also have 3 games in hand, so that ground may be easier to pick up than it seems. Whether they can get back into the playoff race remains to be seen, however, if the Ducks keep this up, or continue to play even close to the level they are playing now, they will definitely have a shot at the playoffs. And they would be the 1st team in NHL history under the current playoff system that would make the playoffs despite being 10+ points out at the All-Star break. One thing is for certain, the Ducks will be fun to watch for the rest of the year, and the way they are playing nobody would want to play these guys in the 1st round if they managed to pull off a miracle and squeeze into the playoffs.

Grant Robinson (@thesportsgrind)

The Price Hasn’t been right!

Carey Price has been considered the only real bright spot on a struggling Canadiens team that has been surrounded by turmoil and controversy all season. Much of the year, this would have been an understatement, as Price has kept the Habs in games they had no place being in all season long, and showed why he is considered an elite goaltender in the NHL. However, recently Price’s play hasn’t been so hot. Ever since the holidays were approaching Price just hasn’t been the same as since December 15th, in 13 starts before the Leafs game on Saturday he was only 3-9-1. Before that point he had a record of 12-8-7, which wasn’t great, but when you consider how the team was playing in front of him, it was very impressive. At 3-9-1 in the last month, the wheels have clearly fallen off in Montreal. But as bad as Price’s record has been, I can’t blame him for that, as I believe that has a lot to do with the team in front of him. So the win/loss record is forgivable. What should be giving Habs fans some thought however, is the fact that Price has allowed 3 or more goals in 8 of those 13 games. His stats over that span shows a 2.92 GAA, and an abysmal .883 save%. When you compare those to his season stats of 2.41 GAA and .914 save%. It becomes clear that his play has noticeably slipped recently. When you see how many goals Price has been letting in recently, a stat that really surprised me is that Montreal gives up the 6th least shots against per game in the league, which you would assume would help Price out. However, the stats only show so much, and there is no questioning that Price has been hung out to dry by his D-men on more than one occasion. Price’s game against Toronto on Saturday could have been a big turning point for his season, as he stopped 32 of 33 shots and led the Habs to a win in a game that was HUGE for Montreal’s dwindling playoff hopes. Whether Price could slingshot that game into a streak of sorts remains to be seen, but Habs fans everywhere are desperately hoping for it.

The one concerning stat with Price’s season in my eyes, is how he has played at home in front of the Bell Centre crowd. On the road Price has been great, going 9-9-1 on a losing team, and posting a 2.26 GAA and a .927 save%. However, when you look at his performance on home ice this season, the numbers drop significantly. Price has posted a 7-8-7 record at home, which is a far cry from his wins and losses on the road. While allowing 2.55 Goals per game, and a .899 save%!!! Carey Price and a save% under .900 is something you just don’t hear too often, so when you do hear it, you know there is something wrong. Carey Price is one of the most talented and promising goaltenders in the league, and the Bell Centre when things are going good is by far the loudest arena in the NHL. However, when things are going bad, the fans aren’t shy to voice their opinions, or boo the team, and perhaps that is what has Price playing poorly on home ice. And for those of you that think there isn’t something wrong with Price, and that he has been just fine. Consider this last concerning fact…Budaj’s last 3 starts have come against the Penguins, the Rangers and the Blackhawks. 3 of the hottest teams in the league, each littered with all-star forwards. It makes sense that the Habs played Budaj around those times, because each of those games were parts of a back-to-back. However, in each of those 3 games the Habs decided to give Price the easier start, and make Budaj face the tougher opposition. When Budaj played the Blackhawks, Price played the Jets. When the Rangers were the opponent, they started Price vs Ottawa. And instead of playing Price vs Malkin and the Penguins, they let Budaj face them. Clearly the organization has noticed what I have in Price’s play, and are trying to get him going.

I know it might seem like I am trashing Price in this article, but that really isn’t the case. There is no doubt in my mind that Price is the key to this team, and by far has been it’s brightest star this year. There is no doubt in my mind that the Habs have done a horrible job of helping out Price this year, and that the blame in no way shape or form should rest on his shoulders for the lack of success this year. However, Price isn’t playing up to his own level, and when he does get going and playing the way we know he could, the Habs will be a much tougher team to play. The win against Toronto was a good building block, perhaps this is exactly what both they and Price needed. Habs fans out there, don’t be too worried, as Price has shown in the past he could bounce back from slumps. After an incredible rookie season, he had 2 subpar years, before re-emerging last year as one of the top goalies in the NHL. He will inevitably get out of this funk and begin to dominate once again, the question is only when. And will it be too late for the Habs already slim playoff hopes.

Grant Robinson (@thesportsgrind)