March 2, 2012

GetRealHockey is moving and building

We want to thank all our readers and bloggers for the support in the last 18 months.  The blog has developed a solid following and the writing quality has just exploded.

GetRealHockey intends to keep building the brand through our new website.  You can find us @  The site is still under construction and readers can expect to see site improvements during the course of the next week

GetRealHockey is also working on . This sister site will offer NHL experiences to fans all over the world.  Check it out if you want to have the NHL experience of a lifetime.

We look forward to your feedback on both sites.  You can reach us @ or

March 1, 2012

Rangers keep Rollin

The trade deadline passed, without any major deals for the Rangers. They went out on Monday night and shutdown a very tough Devil team, behind Henrik Lundqvist’s 7th shutout and 30th win of the season.  Tonight they went out and beat a surging Carolina Hurricane team, without Captain Ryan Callahan with Brandon Dubinsky benched after taking a bad penalty early in the game, and with Michael Del Zotto leaving the game early after reinjuring his hip. A game like tonight when Marty Biron, who has struggled lately, played a solid game this team showed once again, why they didn’t need to make a big trade. Why Glen Sather didn’t dismantle the roster, and showed why the fans of this team have a reason to believe. They stay the course, just like the coach has taught them, just like the GM showed by not making any trades.

This has become the true identity of this team, they are tough they are gritty and they are blue collar, just like many New Yorkers. Just when you think there could be a letdown, this team steps up, whether its Brandon Prust, or Brian Boyle or new comer John Scott who was picked up at the deadline, someone steps up and helps this team win. As it has been the case all season, this was another team win, a win where not just one player stepped up, but there were contributions up and down the line up. The GAS line of Anisimov, Gaborik and Stepan played big and they needed to, Marc Staal stepped up and played what could have been his best game of the season. Now could that be because he was playing against his brother Eric, for the first time since he gave Marc a concussion, or if it is because he starting to return to form is still to be determined, but he has been playing better as of late. The fact that Staal has been playing better is going to be a big key during this final stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs, especially if players continue to get dinged up. The continued growth of Ryan McDonagh has also started to become evident with each passing game, as he continues to play very well against the opposing team’s top players, another reason why Sather didn’t make the Nash deal because Columbus was asking for the young stud defenseman.

This team is showing that they belong in the top spot in the East and it doesn’t look like they are ready to give it up anytime soon. Tomorrow they play the Tampa Bay before a big home game on Sunday against the Boston Bruins, who are still chasing the Rangers in the East. The Rangers have a tough month ahead but this will be the final hurdle of the regular season, before the playoffs, so it will be a very good test before the playoffs and the drive for the Stanly Cup.  If you don’t think this team has a great chance to take home Lord Stanley’s Cup for the first time since 1994, watch this team play and I’m sure you will become a believer, I’m sure you will see what all the true blue Rangers fans see and love about their New York Rangers.

By Joe Clewell

Hawks Take Out The Leafs

Well the Toronto Maple Leafs are sure glad to see the 'Leap' month of February go away as they ended it on a losing note once again, falling to the Chicago Black Hawks 5-4.

It is a shame to see what we all thought was going to be a good team in the young Leafs fall from a playoff spot in January and then going 1-8-1 in the last 10 games to drop out of the race for the playoffs and even having the possibility of finishing in 12th or 13th place in their conference..... man does that hurt!

I guess we could say it is a 'growing pain' for a young team or we could blame management or coaching for not directing these young players in the right direction. We even could declare that the management hasn't brought in the right mix of players to be a top 8 place team but all this does is show that we are pointing fingers at each other. And my Head Coach (MY DAD!) always said" be careful of pointing fingers as you point one at someone, you have 4 pointing back at you!" Meaning it is time for the players, coaches and management to stop, look into the mirror and re-exam what they have and maybe admit that they have gone off course and start getting back to the problem on hand!

Well I digress (as sometimes I do).

I was worried about the way this game was going to start off as I watch warm ups. Leafs goalie, Gustavsson skated out from the corner to take his turn in net for some shots and actually tripped over the goal post as he entered the crease. I thought to myself, boy this is going to be a long night...again.

But the game last night looked to be a barn burner as both teams came out flying, hitting and getting scoring chances. The Leafs had talked about their slow starts and they came out with a start that every team wants to have. By the end of the first period the Leafs were up 3-1 with goals coming from Tyler Bozak, Joffery Lupul and Clark MacArthur who had built the 3-1 lead but only to see it slip half way through the 2nd period.

With goals for the Hawks coming in bunches ( Shaw, Kruger, Kane, Hossa) by the end of the second period the Hawks were up 4-3 and looking to close the door on the Leafs with help from Ray Emery who had come into the 1st period taking over from starting goalie Crawford.

The third was a entertaining period as the Leafs out shot the Hawks 17-12 and threw everything at Emery but Ray 'Sugar' Emery stoned the Leafs with save after save.

Marian Hossa picked up his second of the evening at 19:44 of the third to keep the Leafs at bay and with the  Leafs net empty, an extra attacker, the Leafs put one more in from Mike Brown, but as the say a little to late for that.

Game Notes.

Chicago was also on a little skid of their own dropping the last 3 games and not getting production from Kane and Hossa. Thanks for the Leafs coming to the 'Windy City' and looking after that!

Gustavsson had 30 shots and allowed 5 goals and looked shaky at times. Maybe it is time the Leafs look at the Goalie Coach and see where a change can happen there?

Matthew Lombardi was a healthy scratch for the 1st time this year, he is a -13 the teams worst on that category.

Best Hockey Player name right now? BlackHawks Johnny Oduya (O-do-ya)

Leafs stay on the road and are in Montreal for this Sat 3rd taking on the Canadians at 7pm. Should be a entertaining game as it is always between this two clubs.

Until next time,

Se You After the Game,

Coach Nye

"Wishing February wouldn't end"

There are two reasons this February has been good. The first being it is my birthday month. The other reason you ask? The Phoenix Coyotes posted an astonishing 11-0-1 record through the month. February ended on a good note though as they defeated the Vancouver Canucks, who not only are the leading points team in the league, but also the only team to put a dent in the near perfect month for the Coyotes.

So what exactly propelled the team to this great streak?

No doubt about it Mike Smith has been huge for this team. He has set the franchise record for consecutive wins which currently sits at 11 and counting. Any doubters of the once wrote off net minder have been quieted this season. Remember, the Lightning sent him down to their AHL affiliate less than a year ago. Talk about a turn around season for the net minder.

However, Smith is not the only one doing things on the ice to make this team into a playoff team.

Take Ray Whitney, who is currently 39 years young and having an outstanding year on the desert. Not only does he lead the team on points, but has been an instrumental part in this extraordinary push towards the playoffs. The "Wizard" will turn forty next month and continues to play at a high level. I would have to draw a comparison to the Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash. They both seem to get better as the years pass.

One of the most overlooked if not the most overlooked player who got snubbed from the All Star game in Ottawa is Radim Vrbata. He leads the team in the goals category with 30. Even more impressive is the fact that ten of those thirty are game winning goals. Talk about clutch. You take away Vrbata's 30 tallies and who knows where the Coyotes would be.

While that is only a few players/reasons this team is performing so well at the right time, I think it comes down to the work ethic and chemistry on this team. The players in the locker room all know their roles on this team and have been executing them to near perfection. That is largely due to Dave Tippett's pack mentality. The system is realistically the only way this team can and will win. They don't have the superstars that an take over games like other NHL teams do.

Job well done Phoenix. Here's to hoping we have a third straight playoff birth. Keep proving the hockey world wrong.

What's not to love about the scorching Phoenix Coyotes?

- Chase Tomlinson

GetRealHockey talks with hockey legend Bernie Nicholls

Hockey fans all over the world remember hockey legend Bernie Nicholls.  The man was a beast on the ice and he has given NHL fans many highlight reel moments.
I was able to talk with Bernie yesterday and get his feedback on all things hockey.  

QUESTION: It was great to see the Kings honor you in their Legends Night ceremony this season. What sort of emotions does a former player like yourself go through in an event like this? Being away from the spotlight for a while… were there any jitters?

BERNIE NICHOLLS: Well… I was nervous, obviously.  But I was definitely honored.  I had my daughter with me who had never seen me play in LA and I had my two sisters down who had never been in LA.  The whole night was great.  You know, the Kings, it was first class.  They treated my family good and my daughter had a great time being there on the ice.  The whole night was really really cool.

QUESTION: You were born and raised in Canada, where hockey is widely popular. How did it feel playing in Los Angeles, where you are not nearly as recognized in public. Many players say it is a good thing not to be recognized in public and prefer to have the privacy.  

BERNIE NICHOLLS: Well, I've actually played both.  I've played in Canada and I've played in Los Angeles.  I came to LA a Canadian… none of us really knew we had a team.  From such a small town in Canada we used to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Montreal Canadiens and all of a sudden I get a call from the LA Kings and I didn't know a whole lot about them.  Coming out here I was from the smallest town in the world.  I think there's about a hundred people in my home town and I come to Los Angeles where there's ten million people.  So, it was obviously a culture shock.  Yeah, the people at the time didn't know a whole lot about hockey.  You know, but the thing about LA though… we had 12 thousand loyal season seat holders every night and they were great.  Obviously now after Wayne came here, they've done much better.  I think everybody knows a lot more about hockey now than in the 80's.  Playing in Los Angeles, it was great.

QUESTION: How has hockey changed in LA since you were drafted in 1980? Is there a difference in the popularity of the sport in the city?

BERNIE NICHOLLS: Yeah, no question.  I think there are a lot of kids who play hockey here in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California.  I've played up in Northern California… youth hockey is pretty good up there.  It's come a long way.  Like I said, there's more people that come to games now than they did in the 80's.  I think they're absolutely more knowledgable about it. And for kids, I think the youth hockey in Los Angeles, they do a great job.  I think the kids are learning to play here and I don't think it'll be much time before we see kids in the NHL from Southern California.

QUESTION: When you were traded for the first time to the New York Rangers, what sort of emotions did you feel? You were an LA King for quite a while before that happened. I imagine there had to be some frustration. How do pro athletes react to being traded?

BERNIE NICHOLLS: Absolutely.  I think, the first time traded… if you're not wanting to be traded or expecting it, it's really tough.  You know, sometimes guys are in a situation where they want out and they're looking forward to it.  For me, I was shocked.  I just finished playing one year with Gretzky.  It was unbelievable.  It was an honor to play with him and so much fun.  I was looking forward to playing with him for five, six, ten more years.  But, I did get traded.  It was a shock.  I was angry, disappointed, all of the above… and… it was really tough.  It's hard when you're not expecting it.

QUESTION: … and you eventually get over that especially when you join your new team, right?

BERNIE NICHOLLS: Yeah, and you know, the thing is… that's the business side of it that a lot of people don't understand.  You're traded, you move on, you go to another city who wants you.  Obviously they want you bad.  They traded for you.  You want to go there and you want to be the best player you possibly can be for that organization, for the group of players you're going to be playing with now.  Once you get there, the past is gone, and you move forward.

QUESTION: While we are on the subject of trades, the NHL trade deadline came and went recently. The Kings acquired Jeff Carter in exchange for Jack Johnson and a conditional first round pick. What does Carter bring to the Kings in your opinion?

BERNIE NICHOLLS: Wow, he's the player that we really don't have… that real high scoring right winger, you know that we needed to play with a guy like Mike and Kopitar… either one.    We've been kind of trying to fill that void.  We've obviously struggled with goal scoring.  Now that Mike Richards has a player that he's really comfortable with and a real good goal scorer, I think you'll see that line really improve.  When you don't score a lot of goals and you struggle that way and you get a guy who can score goals, it makes your whole team feel that much better and even play that much better.  They got the confidence that if you do get scored on one or two goals that you're capable of coming back.  So, that's a big plus.

QUESTION: The Kings have had a lot of problems scoring goals this season. For anyone who watches this team, it is obvious that it hasn't been a lack of effort. Is the problem more mental, technical, or just pure bad luck?

BERNIE NICHOLLS: Well, I think you can put all of that into the equation.  When you don't score goals, a lot of times, whether you are a gifted goal scorer or you're not, you have to go and want to get into the tough areas… the goal scoring areas and do the right thing.  I find a lot time with our guys, they do a lot of missing the net.  They don't shoot the puck at the right time.  They don't get available in the scoring areas.  They don't create scoring opportunities for one another.  And when they get them, they miss the net.  You know, I don't know many, with the statistics... on shots at the goal, shots that don't get through, and shots that miss the net… and you'd be amazed to know how many shots that don't get through to the net.  They either get blocked or just miss the net.  That there is a big part of it.  Any player can work on that.  Work on hitting the net.  Work on getting available in proper scoring opportunities.  That's what we have to do better collectively as a group.

QUESTION: What sort of changes do you think the Kings can make during the summer to resolve the scoring problems?

BERNIE NICHOLLS: They still have a couple of kids who are out that are injured.  Gagne is out who is a really good goal scorer.  They've got some young kids coming up who are skilled.  Obviously, you evaluate your team at the end the season.  Dean Lombardi and Darryl Sutter will evaluate it and if they think they need more of this and more of that, then they'll probably try to do the best they can to go get it.

QUESTION: Some fans may not know this, but you've been working with the Kings this season as a consultant. Can you give us some insight on what sort of things you work on and who you work with mostly?

BERNIE NICHOLLS: I just work with anybody.  You know, I think when I came here it was the part where they had trouble scoring goals on their power play and struggled.  I just asked if I could put an input, give my two cents, try to structure, make it easier for them to create some opportunities to create more scoring chances, and then just talk to the guys.  You know, a lot of times it's a confidence thing or tell guys and help them out with maybe positioning… and like I said, to get in the right scoring areas and shoot the puck hard at the net.  Just little things like that that guys who are struggling need to be aware of. And you just try to do all that.

QUESTION … So you were approached by the Kings or did you reach out to Dean Lombardi and Darryl Sutter to offer your help?

BERNIE NICHOLLS: I had talked to Dean for the last couple of years because the power play had struggled a little bit at times.  Just wanted to give my opinion.  When Darryl came in January, you know, I've worked with Darryl before… he coached me for two different teams, I know him real well.  I just asked him if he thought it would be beneficial for me to come out and try to help out any way I can.  He thought it would be a good idea for me to come out and they asked for me to stay for the rest of the year.  So, hopefully if I can add anything to help, that's what you want to do.  Just try to help out as much as you can.

QUESTION: How long do you plan on being with the Kings and would a permanent coaching job be something that might interest you in the future, not necessarily with the Kings?

BERNIE NICHOLLS: Well, it's the Kings I was interested in working with because I know the players, I've played here, this is the team I've always like to play for, and to work for.  So, I'd like to do whatever they need me to do as long as they want me to do it.  It's obviously up to them in the summer time at the end of the season.  You know, for me, it's whatever I can do to help.  I'm more than happy to.  As long as they want me to, I'll be here.  

- Mike Torosyan

SENS-ational Swede - Erik Karlsson Norris Trophy winner ?

During a week where the Ottawa Senators traded a defenseman drafted 9th overall (Brian Lee)  for a player who is a pending UFA this year (Matt Gilroy). You would think that I would be writing an article talking about how the Ottawa Senators scouts clearly do not have a good eye for d-men, due to the fact that they picked a bust like Lee in the top 10. However, trading up to draft Erik Karlsson in 2008 more than makes up for the Lee mistake. In fact with the way he is playing, the Senators could have every 1st round pick be a bust for them for a decade, and I still might give a vote of confidence to them just because of the Karlsson pickup.

How often is it that an Ottawa Senators player is the talk of the league? Zdeno Chara was great in Ottawa, but didn’t reach his peak until Boston, culminating in the 2009 Norris trophy. Daniel Alfredsson was always a great leader, but never a true NHL SUPERstar. Jason Spezza is currently in the top 5 in NHL scoring, however, is never mentioned in the same breath as players like Malkin or Giroux. Erik Karlsson in his 3rd year might do something that nobody else has ever done for the Ottawa Senators, and that is truly be the best in the league at his position. It is crazy to say it but Erik Karlsson with what he has accomplished in his young career, might just end up being the best thing that has ever happened to the Ottawa Senator. However, if that is too much of a stretch for you, then there is no doubt he is on pace to put up the single best individual season Ottawa has ever seen.

Karlsson currently has 15 goals and 66 points in 63 games, and is on pace for 19 goals and 86 points this season! Before we discuss the significance of those numbers and why they might be some of the best the league has seen in a long time, let’s look at how his stats compare to the rest of the league this season. Karlsson leads D-men in goals, assists, and points! But what is most impressive isn’t that he has the most points, it’s how far ahead of the rest of the pack he is. He is simply in his own class right now, as he has 23 more points than the next closest d-man Brian Campbell. When you look at d-men producing offensively this season, there really is no comparison to the young swede, as he truly is in a league of his own.

Karlsson has been great all season long, but recently his stats have been off the charts! His production dropped after the All-Star break, but after being held off the scoresheet for 4 consecutive games, Karlsson reached a new level in his game. He is currently in the midst of an 8 game point streak, in which he has 7 goals and 18 points. In fact, 6 of those 8 games have been multi-point efforts, which is just unheard of for d-men. He is one of the main reasons that the Senators have climbed their way back into contention and have a very strong hold on a playoff spot right now.

Not only is Karlsson leading all blueliners in points, he is also tied for 6th in overall points regardless of position. The only players with more points than him are Malkin, Stamkos, Giroux, Kessel and his teammate Spezza. It is incredibly rare for a d-man to be this high in the scoring race, yet Karlsson hasn’t seemed to let that slow him down a single bit, as he is keeping pace with even the best scorers the league has to offer.  If that still doesn’t impress you, compare his stats to the stats of d-men in recent years. With 2 more points he will tie last year’s leader in blueline scoring Lubomir Visnovsky with 68 points. In the last 3 seasons, 60 points has been surpassed by a defenseman only 6 times, and yet Karlsson has already accomplished that with 19 games left in the year! Post-lockout the most points put up in a season by a defenseman was 80 points, which was a career high put up by Nicklas Lidstrom, the man who has won the Norris trophy an incredible 7 times! Karlsson is currently on pace to surpass that total by 6 points. I don’t think I need to stress how impressive it is to be able to do something from the blueline that Lidstrom hasn’t been able to do. Even Mike Green who had some of the greatest offensive seasons in recent memory, was never able to eclipse the 80 point plateau. Green put up 76 and 73 points in back to back seasons, but wasn’t able to win a Norris trophy, as he was the runner-up both years. This will be the year that an offensive defenseman other than Lidstrom wins the Norris.

Last season Karlsson put up 13 goals and 45 points which was very impressive, but his -30 kept him off of everyone’s radar. This year he is much improved in that category as he is a +15 so far this year, helping solidify his Norris campaign. For those of you that think all he does is put up points, and don’t count +/- as a legitimate stat, thus need to be a little more impressed to consider him Norris worthy. How about the fact that he chews up a ton of ice time for the Senators? Karlsson is 10th in the NHL when it comes to time on ice (TOI) as he plays just over 25 minutes a game. He has played over 25 minutes 32 times this year, and has played over 30 minutes 4 times. Having a defenseman who could play those type of minutes is a huge asset for a team, as that means the 3rd pairing isn’t leaned on to play many minutes. The kid is an absolute stud, and considering he is only in his 3rd season and already one of the best at his position proves that the sky is the limit for him.

The only thing preventing Karlsson from being the guaranteed Norris winner is the fact that he plays in Ottawa. If he played for a market like the Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers or even teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Montreal Canadiens, he would be the talk of the league. However, despite the fact that he isn’t getting the credit he deserves league wide, the Senators won’t be complaining as his stellar play has them relevant again when it comes to the playoff race, and it looks like he will be a fixture on their blueline for years to come! Some say he isn’t good enough defensively to win the Norris, and will suffer a fate similar to Mike Green, however, I think the critics are wrong as Karlsson will be hoisting the Norris trophy in the air at the NHL awards ceremony this season!  If you don’t know Erik Karlsson, or haven’t had the pleasure of watching him, I suggest you do, because he truly is one of the best young players in the NHL, and will only get better with age.

- Grant Robinson

NHL on NBC Analysts Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick in Heated Exchange Last Night.

There was a fascinating moment of live television last night on NBC Sports Network as NHL on NBC hockey analysts Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick had a heated exchange about a hit to the head that took place during the Dallas Stars-Pittsburgh Penguins game. The argument about Eric Nystrom's roughing penalty on Kris Letang was secondary to the emotion on display as it appeared Milbury and JR were about to come to blows. 

The root of the animosity between them goes back to 2010 just after Roenick's former team the Chicago Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years. JR wears his heart on his sleeve and in a moment of real genuine emotion he started crying, talking through his tears about not having won the Cup with Chicago and how happy he was that Blackhawks fans finally get to celebrate a championship after waiting for so long. 

But then Milbury ruined what was a rare moment of heartfelt emotion on national television by saying "well I didn't win the Cup either, but I'm not crying." It made Milbury look like an unempathetic jerk. Milbury has a reputation as being an obnoxious blowhard. He even was accused of assaulting a 12-year-old boy during a fight with his son. The case was dismissed. For some reason NBC keeps bringing Milbury back. There have been times after seeing him appear on TSN that I thought he was banished to Canada. But then I see him on NBC again putting down his fellow analysts like JR and ridiculing some of my favorite players like Alex Ovechkin, who he says has a "low hockey IQ." In other words, Milbury doesn't think Ovie is very smart. Of course it is easy to criticize a player like Ovechkin from a studio in Bristol, Connecticut. 

It's not that Milbury doesn't make good points sometimes. In fact, tonight he was on the right side of the argument regarding the Nystrom-Letang hit and in his concern for all the concussions in the NHL. The problem is how he comes across as arrogant and domineering. Kudos to Roenick for challenging Milbury and standing up for himself. Keep it up JR. You've got millions of us rooting for you.

Click here to watch video of tonight's Milbury-Roenick rumble courtesy of Deadspin.

- Josh Marks

Takeaways From The Flyers Venture Into The Northwest

The Flyers wrapped up their Canadian/West Coast road trip, and after watching the games, there are a few bits of knowledge to take away from them.

To begin, I'd have to say the offense was for the most part, wildly inconsistent. They seemed to lack the initiative to take the early lead, giving up the first goal in each and every one of the four contests. For whatever reason, it seems like they enjoy coming back from a goal down, and in two of the games they managed to stay complacent, allowing the Sharks and Oilers to shut them out completely. For a club known as the highest scoring team in the NHL, this is simply unacceptable.

I spoke about moving Danny Briere before, and now he has found himself landing on the fourth line. Is that truly where you want to spend 7 million dollars in the middle? I don't dislike Danny, hardly the case, but honestly, this guy should've gone at the deadline to collect more youth for the movement going on in Philly. The Flyers will have yet another chance of course to clear cap space in the offseason, but so will everyone else, and his value wont be nearly as high considering his worth climbs during the playoffs. Philadelphia could've made a bold move to snatch up a young winger and have them gel with Schenn and Couturier these final 20 games in preparation for the next season when chemistry will be more important than ever.

I've noticed along with any other fan who follows hockey the intense Bryzgalov bashing in Philadelphia, but I also endured this same outlandish attitude as whole over Scott Hartnell's value to the organization. For the last three seasons while preaching his knack for getting dirty goals, for actually showing up in the SC Finals, people around me endlessly moped and raged about trading him, getting him out of town. Now? He made his first All Star Game appearance, quite possibly stole the show in Ottawa, and when seeing games at the Well Fargo Center, his jersey is virtually on every fourth or so fans back. Goaltenders take a little more time to cohesively fit into a team's defense, so we may not see the best of Bryz until year three, but his value is there, and in the two shutouts, he stood on his head just to keep the game from getting more out of hand than it already had.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway though, is the lack of quality shots they are taking and the fact that one of the best road teams failed to capture more points during this stretch, the Sharks are playing like shells of their former selves and the Oilers are definitely not known as one of the better defensive units in the league. They eeked out wins over two teams they should've handled with more authority, and it stems mostly from the fact that they have somehow deviated away from typical Philly style of play, no one is crowding or clogging the lane in front of opposing teams goalies as often as they should, and far too many shots from low percentage areas are being taken. Coburn's pinball goal in Calgary was a fluke, and has it not occurred, we'd be discussing how the Flyers dropped three of four out west. The Flyers can't afford to have Scott Hartnell leading the charge when his role is more defined being posted up right in front of goalies, waiting on the rebound. I'll be attending tomorrow's game against the Isles, and I seriously fear more of the now routine don't-do-much-in-the-first-two-periods-then-shoot-25-times-in-the-third offense. The Flyers need to get back to basics, grind it out a little more early on, and take more high percentage shots, or Flyers fans can expect more of the same type of results we have witnessed in the last week or so. 

- Clayton Taylor

February 29, 2012

Habs Calling It A Season

In my last post I made a case for the Habs and their dreadful campaign. Allow me to even out the playing field…

Before I completely rag on this team, let me first say that it was exciting to see Blake Geoffrion in a Habs sweater for the first time. He was pretty soft of the puck for his debut, but nerves are excusable for his first effort. Not only is he a Geoffrion, but also think about how freaky it would be for anyone to make his debut as part of such a winning franchise. I mean, really. Does this team ever stop constantly winning? I’m surprised any Hab has time to shave in the morning for all the winning. Just one win after the other, let me tell you.

The Canadiens are currently 11 points behind the Capitals in the race for the final Eastern playoff spot, with 18 games to go. It might take a combination of Jesus, Tony “Bananahands” Robbins, and 22 copies of ‘Miracle’ on DVD to make it happen, but it is not yet officially impossible to save this season.

Regardless, after an especially soft effort by the Habbies last night, where they were edged 2-1 in Tampa, it looks as though they’re packing it in and calling it a season.

Pretty generous, if you ask me. I wouldn’t call it a season. I would call it an asshole. I would walk straight up to the Habs’ 2011-12 season, look it straight in the eye, and say “Look, pal. You’re an asshole. And that’s all there is to it.” I mean, the mess they’re in is something to behold. It’s uncategorical!

“At least they weren’t slaughtered,” says my girlfriend, Jacky, after the game.

A valiant effort to thwart my hurling of coffee mugs at walls, Hun, but the scoreboard can be a very deceiving thing.

The beauty of this game, as to any sport, is that there are all these hidden variables to why things happen -- things like a defenseman who uses more energy than necessary on an unsuccessful fore-check, only to be a few breaths short of a successful back-check to follow -- but what I’m specifically referring to is that they all play for themselves in the grand scheme of things. It is almost inconceivable to suggest that a player would dumb down their play for the good of the team’s lottery chances, though it does seem to look that way.

Confidence is paramount.

Lets take a peek at a few interesting stats regarding two players with two of the most important roles on this Habs team:

C Tomas Plekanec

Plekanec’s average ice-time is listed at 20:37. As the Habs resident PK specialist he has been called upon pretty often this season. The problem is that he has the 2nd worst plus/minus in the entire league.

This is an assistant captain who is widely considered to be the best player on this team and I am not convinced that Coach Cunneyworth has a clue in the world how to use him. Get to know your players, man. Yes he is good on the PK, but he really thrives offensively as an unbelievably gifted playmaker. The way Pleks has been utilized this season is criminal and it shows in his lack of confidence.

This result is not solely the fault of coaching, as poor management by Pierre “Mr.” Gauthier never resulted in acquiring formidable line mates for Tomas, though I think a consistent length of time centering Eller and Kostitsyn might have resulted in some dangerous chemistry.

D Tomas Kaberle

I should first note that, regardless of his Leafs persuasion, it is my opinion that Kabs used to be one of the best decision-making, puck moving, break-out defenseman in the entire league. I wanted him on the Canadiens team badly.

Fast forward to this year's trade deadline . . .

Lets put it this way: In return for him I would have accepted a conditional 30th round pick, contingent on whether he can tie his own skates in under half an hour in more than one regular season game.

Listed at -19, Kaberle is the worst D-man in the entire league in plus/minus. The worst.

Holy hell, man. What is the major malfunction?

Granted, this is a man who was obviously brought in to help the Habs PP, but lord knows I’m not going to dig out that armpit of a stat. Nor do I want to bring up his pairing with Campoli.

Kaberle is not necessarily on board to “defend”, but his TOI, listed at 17:40, suggests otherwise. He is the 3rd most-used defenseman behind Subban and Georges.

These are only a few stats that illustrate just a few discrepancies involving this albatross of a season for the Habs. There are a few exciting and glaring upsides, notably the Cole line with the baby genius David Desharnais leading the team in scoring, +/- and being just over 50% in the face-off circle, but lets face it . . .

As the Hollywood of Canada, Montreal fans love the dirt. They prefer to jump into the back seat, the pissed-off end of the bandwagon.

As an obsessive fan, it will always sting the ‘ol ass to watch this team lose, even if it is to gain a Grigorenko, a Galchenyuk, or maybe even a Yakupov in turn. Yes, but you sure as shit won’t see me complaining as one of them hits the stage, awkwardly pulling the CH over their heads for the first time.

Just all of you be sure to spend the next 18 games on your knees, praying like hell to the God of Hockey Fate, Lottery Luck and Amateur Scouting to end up with the real deal stud, and not the real deal dud.

And be real polite about it, ‘cause judging by our Habs’ recent draft history, I think that God is a Bruins fan.

- Amos Legault

February 28, 2012

Preview of the GetRealHockey VIP Experiences Site - Coming Soon

This week is the Going Deep Trade Deadline Special!

Grant recaps all of the trades that happened before the deadline, and also discusses what else happened in and around the NHL throughout the past week during the “Headlines”.

He then discusses the 5 main topics of the day

1)      The Jeff Carter trade to LA, for Jack Johnson & a 1st. And why he believes the Jackets didn’t get enough for him. (30 minutes-39:30)

2)      Steve Downie in the 3 way trade that sent him to Colorado, Quincey to DET, & a 1st rounder to TB. And why he believes the trade should have never happened. (39:30-46)

3)      Andrei Kostitsyn being reunited with his brother in Nashville, and whether or not the combination will work. (46-53:30)

4)      Hodgson being shipped to Buffalo for Kassian, and why it’s a big risk for the Canucks. (53:30-57:30)

5)      The trades we expected that never happened and why they didn’t.

-          Rick Nash: why teams were wise to stay away (57:30—61:30)

-          Steve  Ott & other big names: why they werent moved (61:30-62:30)

-          Why Burke was smart to not make a big move for the Leafs, and how the true winners of the deadline were the teams that stayed away from the high prices, and showed self-restraint (62:30…)

If you have any suggestions for next week’s podcast feel free to tweet Grant @TheSportsGrind

Enjoy the show!

February 27, 2012

Breaking Down Deadline Day

The 2012 NHL trade deadline passed at 3pm eastern, and it was a relatively quiet day. Deals were made on a hockey basis and the usual dumping of salary did not happen. Some interesting moves were made as both Stanley Cup finalists from last year made deals and Nashville was clearly a buyer.

Starting with the Vancouver Canucks, who made the most interesting deal with the Buffalo Sabres. The Canucks sent Cody Hodgson and prospect Alexander Sulzer to Buffalo in exchange for Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani. This deal has the potential to be good for both sides. Hodgson is having a good year with 16 goals and 33 points in 63 games and is the #1 or #2 center the Sabres so desperately need. Hodgson was stuck behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler on the depth chart and he is not a checking center. The Canucks received a big winger in Kassian, who was one of Buffalo's top prospects. Kassian plays with an edge and has good hands. With skill and the willingness to be physical, Kassian will mix it up and even drop the gloves once in awhile. Vancouver didn't have a player in their system with those unique attributes.

The Canucks also picked up Sami Pahlsson from Columbus for a prospect and a couple picks. Pahlsson makes sense now that Cody Hodgson has been traded and he is a typical 3rd line checking center. Everyone remembers the job Pahlsson did in the playoffs of 07 for Anaheim, if he can get close to that level for the Canucks, they became the favorite to win the cup.

The Boston Bruins picked up some blue line depth by acquiring Greg Zanon From Minnesota for Steven Kampfer, as well as Mike Mottau and forward Brian Rolston from the Islanders for a couple of minor leaguer's. It never hurts to have blue line depth in the playoffs and GM Peter Chiarelli commented that he wanted 8 NHL caliber defenders going into the playoffs.

The Nashville Predators added a couple of forwards for draft picks. The first trade of the day was acquiring Adrei Kostitsyn from Montreal for a 2nd round pick in 2013. This reunites the 2 Kostitsyn brothers and if Andrei can improve like Sergei did when he left Montreal, he could turn out to be a 30 goal scorer in this league. Paul Gaustad was also picked up from Buffalo for a 1st round pick in this summers draft. The Predators are clearly sending a message to defenceman Ryan Suter and Shea Weber that they are serious about contending and want to resign Suter (UFA) and Weber (RFA) to contract extensions before July 1st.

The only other trade worth mentioning is the Chicago Blackhawks acquiring defenceman Johnny Oduya from Winnipeg for a 2nd and 3rd round pick in 2013. This gives the Hawks a little more depth on their blueline, however their playoff chances lie with the injured Jonathan Toews and when he can return to the line up.

In all 15 trades were completed, the lowest number since the lockout, involving 31 players and 11 draft picks. The fact that Rick Nash is still a Columbus Blue Jacket, and GM Scott Howson threw him under the bus after the deadline passed, will be an interesting saga between now and the NHL entry draft. Scott Howson told the media in a press conference that Rick Nash asked for the Jackets to explore trade options. Howson said he would try to accommodate the request only if he could get cornerstone pieces in return that will help the club win a championship. There rest of the season was already going to be a bit of a distraction in Columbus and now it will be a little worse after Howson's comments.

- Mike Lord

Winnipeg Jets @ The Deadline

The first trade deadline where the Winnipeg Jets 2.0 would participate in. Many Winnipegers had high expectations of the Jets going into the deadline. People wanted a top 6 forward, preferably a number 1 center. Well, the deadline has passed and the Jets did not acquire a single forward today. They made only one move. The Jets traded Defenseman Johnny Oduya to the Chicago Blackhawks for a 2nd and 3rd round pick in the 2013 NHL entry draft. Many view this as a positive trade for the Winnipeg Jets. Oduya was a free agent after this current season, and was not likely going to resign with the Jets. He was earning $3,500,000 this season and was in the third and final year of a 3 year, $10,500,000 deal which he originally signed with the New Jersey Devils. Johnny Oduya had played 3.5 years with the New Jersey Devils until being traded to the Atlanta Thrashers on February 4th, 2010 in a deal involving Ilya Kovalchuk going back the other way to the Devils.

Many teams needed a defenseman at the trade deadline, and standards were extremely high. The Nick Grossman trade set the tone for future deals. Grossman was traded from Dallas to Philadelphia for a 2012 2nd round pick, and a 2013 3rd round pick; exactly what the Jets got for Johnny Oduya. Many Jets fans view this as a positive trade for the Jets, and may think that the Blackhawks paid to high for the veteran Swedish defenseman. Once I had texted one of my friends about the trade, he was shocked and thought that Oduya was worth a 4th round draft pick. We got into an argument about this because we completely disagreed on Johnny Oduya’s value. I think that the Oduya for 2nd and 3rd round picks is a fair trade for both teams considering the small availability of veteran defenseman that were available at the deadline.

I had met Johnny Oduya at Safeway two days before the October 9th home opener against the Montreal Canadians. He was waiting in line to pay and I went up to him and said, “Mr. Oduya, I am a huge Jets fan. Can I get a picture with you?” He responded totally shocked and said sure. He definitely did not expect this, because he had just came from playing for the Atlanta Thrashers. No one knew or cared who he was in Atlanta. It was not a hockey state. Putting a NHL team back in Winnipeg is the best thing that has ever happened to this city. The players love it here. So much passion for team. Everyone in Winnipeg always talks about the Jets. Everyone loves the Jets. Johnny Oduya was a fan favourite here in Winnipeg, and everyone surely will miss him. Good luck to you Johnny.

Shortly before the Oduya trade, the Jets picked up Grant Clitsome of waivers from the Columbus Blue Jackets. He is in the first year of a 2 year deal worth $2,500,000. He is a bargain for a price of $1,250,000 per year. In my opinion, good pickup by the Jets to replace Johnny Oduya on the third defense line with Ron Hainsey.

I was a bit disappointed that the Jets didn’t pick up any forwards on deadline day. They need a true number one center. In a couple years, it will be Bryan Little, Alex Burmistrov or Mark Scheifele; but that’s in the future and still 3-5 years away. The asking price for a number one center was high. For the Jets to get a number one centre they would’ve had to give up a 1st round pick or give up some future assets. I understand that the Jets don’t want to do that and I completely agree with them and that we shouldn’t mortgage the future for short term success.

I am overall happy with the Jets roster after the trade deadline and I think this team could do some damage in the playoffs.

Will Levy
Twitter: NHLManitoba

Keeley's Korner - Hockey Hotties for the Ladies in the UK

The response on my first two columns has been amazing.  I am all over this hockey hotties things and the shout outs from the readers really got me thinking.

While the NHL is all well and good for hockey hotties, there is no harm in looking elsewhere too – particularly in the Elite Hockey League, way over in the UK. After all, there’s nothing quite like a hot guy with an accent.

Here are some of the best looking lads to play the beautiful game across the pond.

Name: Craig Peacock
DOB: 8th August 1988
Belfast Giants
Why?: A standout player on the Giants, it’s hard not to notice Peacock – especially without all his uniform and equipment on. It’s unfortunate that there’s not nearly enough photos to show this (no shirtless shots, boo! L), but let’s face it – Peacock doesn’t really need them. With his gorgeous blue-grey eyes and curly dark hair, there’s no doubt that he falls into the hottie category. Even more unfortunate? It seems he’s off the market. But hey, maybe twitter’s not that reliable of a source… a girl can only hope.

Name: Tim Burrows
DOB: 22nd March 1990
Cardiff Devils
Why?: Again – it’s unfortunate that there’s no shirtless pictures. Maybe it’s an NHL thing? But oh well, it doesn’t really matter – the photos that are around are more then enough proof for why he’s on the list. The fact is, Burrows is just amazing. There’s no doubt that he’s talented – afterall, that’s why the Devils have kept him for so long – but with his not-quite-hockey hair and dimpled grin, it’s easy to see why he’s made the list. Plus, he watches ‘Take Me Out’ – perfect, or what?

Name: Josh Batch
DOB: 15th January 1991
Cardiff Devils
Why?: Of the three guys on the list, Batch is the baby of the group, yet has played the farthest away from home – and if the Devils brought him back from the US specifically to play, it’s really no question that he’s talented. Just like how with his blonde hair, blue eyes and nice smile, there’s no question that he’s just completely gorgeous. As a bonus, for those who like a guy with tattoos – I know I do - Batch’s got a shoulder piece on his right arm, which only adds to his hottness.

Anyways ladies, have to dash out now for some food.  Stay in touch and let me know what you think of my boys I think you will love them.  I know I did.

- Keeley Ryan

The Beauty of the Playoffs

The playoffs are a special time of the season. The edge of your seat drama associated with win or your out hockey is like nothing else. Now with teams across the globe heading down the stretch looking to secure that last spot or home advantage every hockey fan has thoughts of the playoffs.

Last week however an article on from Mark Denholm (Slough Jets, EPL) on his personal blog suggested that British ice hockey and the English Premier League should return to the mini league system for its playoff format. This would involve the qualifying teams to be split into two groups who then play against each other home and away with the two teams with the best records going on to the finals weekend. This system was widely used in the UK until quite recently when a change to the knockout system was introduced first by the EIHL then by the EPL.

Denholm suggests that the mini league format would add credibility to the playoffs, as teams would have to win more than 3 games and prolong the post season past a weekend. However Denholm ignores the reasons for the change and the reasons why the playoffs in the knockout format are so exciting.

Firstly the knockout format allows the underdog to have its day. A team from the bottom half of the league can take a scalp much more easily if a tie is played over 2 games instead of over 6. This gives the fans something to cheer on whether they are at the top or the bottom of the regular season.

The knockout format is also much less complicated for everyone. Whether you are a fan, a player or an official you know if you beat the opposition you win the tie and progress. There is no missing half the game because you are busy checking the result in the other game and trying to work out how many goals your team needs. It also avoids the mess that is the head to head method of splitting teams on equal points.

A major reason for the change to the knockout system was one of logistics. The mini league possessed many headaches and pitfalls for the teams that made the playoffs both in terms of arranging the fixtures and in getting to the rink to play the games. The rushed nature of getting the fixtures organised and the short time in which teams have to play them often led to games being played in midweek, which in turn had an adverse effect on attendances as teams struggled to criss-cross the country to make games.

With the change to the knockout system there has been an increase in playoff attendances as home and away fans come along to see their team for possibly the last time. Fans are also more willing to attend, as the costs for playoff tickets are lower and they are more willing to travel, as there is a chance of an upset. Whilst the playoffs are also a focus point for fans to arrange their travel around.

In terms of competition the playoffs in a knockout format provide another challenge. In UK ice hockey the league standings decide the league champion and there is a cup competition in which the semi finalists qualify via a mini league. Therefore there is an absence of a knockout competition to challenge teams.

Ultimately which playoff system is used in the UK should come down to which is the most popular with the fans and with good attendances and a simple method why chance with a magical time of the year.

Neil Tucker