Archive for September 2014

Blackhawks Up

Chicago blows away Oilers in Windy City win


 Edmonton Oilers (0) vs Chicago Blackhawks (4) .......
 Leading the Western Conference the Edmonton Oilers went into Chicago expecting to pad their two game win streak but the 'Hawks were less than gracious hosts.
The first period saw Edmonton get just two shots on net while Chicago would get eight but the game remained scoreless through one.
Edmonton took three of the first four penalties of the second period and the Blackhawks took full advantage going three for three and taking a 3-0 lead thanks to their powerplay. Brad Boyes, Troy Brower and Dan Boyle were all in on the first two, Brad Boyes (23rd) at 2:23 with a wrister, Brower (25th) at 11:51 on a slapper. A minute and thirty-four seconds after Brower made it 2-0 Nik Antropov (19th) got in on the fun as he scored on a slapper at 13:25 for Chicago's third powerplay tally of the period. Troy Brower would strike a second time at 15:50 as Dennis Wideman caught him with a perfect pass as he stepped out of the penalty box and Brower snapped a shot over the shoulder of Ilya Bryzgalov. Rookie John Gibson would come in and replace "Breezy" in the Oilers goal right after the fourth goal. The shots after 40 minutes were 17-13 'Hawks.
The third was a scrappy one with Chicago being tagged with 11 minutes in penalties and Edmonton receiving 7 but there was no further scoring. The Oil would fire twelve more shots at Jaroslav Halak in the third but the Czech would hold the fort and register his second shut-out of the season.
1 - Jarolslav Halak (Chi)...... Halak stopped 25 shots in the game
2 - Troy Brouwer (Chi)......... scored twice and added an assist, one of his best offensive outtings on the season.
3 - Nik Antropov (Chi)......... one goal and one assist while having five shots on net in the game.

Reporting For The WCHL Network.........
Peter Puck

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Pittsburgh goes Duck hunting

Penguins prove to be the better bird in 3-1 win


Pittsburgh Penguins (3) vs Anaheim Ducks (1)......
Saturday night saw two the battle of two birds of different feathers, both in fowl moods. Pittsburgh was mired in a three game slide that has seen them be overtaken for second in the conference by Ottawa. Meanwhile the defending champion Ducks have won three of their past four games but are a shadow of their former self.
The first period was like watching an egg hatch as there was no scoring or penalties through twenty minutes, the Pens holding a slight 7-6 shot advantage.
Anaheim gave the home faithful something to cheer about as Matt Moulson scored his 18th of the season at 8:02 as he deflected a Sheldon Souray slapper over the shoulder of Pens back up tender Joey MacDonald. Then Duck's defenseman Jake Gardiner took an ill-advised hooking penalty at 12:57 and Pittsburgh would make him pay thirty-six seconds later on the powerplay as Patrick Kane scored his 26th of the year as he grabbed the loose rebound in the crease and beat Tuukka Rask. Then the unthinkable happened, on Jake Gardiner's next shift during a scuffle in the Pens crease he apparently bumped into referee Dan O'Halloren and started discussing his last penalty, O'Halloren having heard enough ejected Gardiner for the game thus putting Pittsburgh on a five minute major powerplay. Pittsburgh would score two times with the extra man to go up 3-1 on goals by, Alexander Radulov (10th) at 15:54 and Dan Hamhuis (4th) at 16:12. Tuukka Rask was pulled after the third goal and Eddie Lack took over. The Pens held a 18-12 shot edge after 40 minutes.
The third was much like the first with no scoring and just three minor penalties handed out. Pittsburgh was content to sit back in their defensive shell and protect their two goal lead, only registering two shots on Lack, as he stopped both. Final shots in the game were 20-18 Pens.
1 - Dan Hamhuis (Pit).......... had a goal and an assist on the night
2 - Joey MacDonald (Pit)..... stopped 17 of 18 shots on the night to get his seventh win in thirteen starts
3 - Sidney Crosby (Pit)......... the kid was alright tonight handing out two helpers.

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Team wrap around: St. Louis Blues

Blues just can't get close enough...yet


Welcome to another issue of "who do we choose". This time around we will review the St. Louis Blues and their bump laden rise to the top of the WCHL's Western conference.

The Blues have had a rough couple years in the WCHL, from hovering 2 points out of a playoff spot last year, to hovering 4 points over the line the year before to eek their way into a playoff spot. It's that uncertainty that gets to the fans, the players and the GM alike when you just don't have enough juice to really make it, but you feel your so close.


This year something clicked, or perhaps something snapped? On paper the Blues were not supposed to lead their division, let alone their conference, but paper alone does not a team make. It's like "reverse year" in the WCHL, with teams like Calgary and Nashville, (who in our opinions are the two teams who seem to be able to take a lesser product on paper and make it perform on ice like a real contender) sitting at the bottom of their conference, both looking to miss the big dance. This year that magic has shifted, and the beneficiaries are teams like the Blues, and perhaps the Oilers as well. But we digress, back to the BLUES.


Shifting up and down the top 3 spots for most of the year, the Blues can thank their incredible success to a couple really solid guys who have come out of their shell this year, starting with Damien Brunner. Leading the Blues with 13-26-39 in 53 games he is in no small part an example of  bang for your buck considering his cheap price tag, and yet his GM hasn't resigned him, hoping perhaps to clean up come Free Agency. Another key asset is Ales Hemsky, a guy who keeps a bag packed in waiting for the next trade that sees his butt get on a bus and head out of town. Hemsky has found a home, and more surprisingly a solid two way game that has helped the Blues by both netting 33 points, and maintaining a +5 on a team where half of the guys are in the negative. While Brunner has peaked playing the top center, Hemsky is doing it from the 2nd line, a less illustrious spot, but one he seems to thrive in.


We couldn't round out the forwards without mentioning the fact that the Blues are able to maintain that top spot in the west even though their BEST forward is and has been injured for 20 games of their campaign. Despite his injury, Rich Peverly is still 2nd in scoring, and is the only player to maintain over 1 PPG. Peverly is wanting to rejoin his team soon, as his sprained ankle is healing up nicely. It could have been worse we suppose, but the Blues surely need him back in the saddle and producing again to keep up their pace. Peverly has 11-24-35 in 32 games this year, far from a slouch.


That's enough of those well and talented forwards that have collectively proved once again the truth in the expression " the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" Lets move onto the Defense, or rather "The Bieksa". Just missing the top 10 by a single point, Bieksa is the damaging force that every team underlines to their players in the pregame strategy sessions. His numbers kinda of speak for themselves, 183 PIM to come in at 2nd in the league. Add to that 136 hits coming in at 4th, and 24 points on the year and you clearly have "Powerhouse" that every team needs to plan for. Joining Bieksa is Marc Staal, but he kind of pales in comparison with only 17 points on the year and a very poor -10 rating. So we will let that dead horse lie.

The Blues put together something special it seems. Not every GM has an eye for it, and it tends to change from year to year, but have no doubt this year is the year of the underdog, with teams like Edmonton and Ottawa, the Blues and Columbus staking their ground in playoff territory, and bumping from grace some perennial favorites like Calgary and Nashville. Make no mistake, this is a VERY different year for the WCHL, up is down and left is right, and I'm sure we can all agree, while annoying to the dynasty teams, its a breath of fresh air. Whatever buttons are being pushed behind the scenes to adapt, change and tweak the way the WCHL runs, they are spreading the wealth, and taking the obviously talented teams down a notch... except maybe those pesky New York Rangers.

The last part of the Blues tetris puzzle is of course the netminder Nicklas Backstrom. He gets pelted each and every game and now has 1444 shots against in only 54 games. His stats may not look outstanding, but when you take in to account what a workhorse he needs to be when backstopping this team, his silver lining gets a little brighter. Backstrom is probably in his twilight years, so this may well be his last kick at the championship can, and we think he is taking it quite serious. 31 wins in 54 games, speaks volumes for a season like the WCHL is currently having. Even Lundy only has 33.

The Blues on paper don't look like a contender, but much like the flames don't look like a bottom dweller, paper means nothing this year, and the Blues now have more chance than most (based on their actions) to bring home some hardware and shut the critics up for awhile.

Go BLUES!!!!

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Jonathan has something 'Bruin'

Washington Capitalizes on a pair of goals from Huberdeau in win over Boston


Boston Bruins (1) vs Washington Capitals (3).........
Washington hosted the Bruins on Saturday at the Alpine Center in Landover. The Caps 6-1 in their last seven games were sitting 5th in their conference before game time. As for the Bruins they 3-7 in their last ten games, hard pressed to be considered for a play-off spot they sit 8 points out of eighth with four teams ahead of them. It's fair to say their next half dozen games will tell if they are contenders or pretenders.
The Capitals struck for two goals in the first twenty minutes as Brent Burns (5th) at 12:35 snapped a shot in behind Ryan Miller after teammate Mike Green had fired wide of the six by four, then second year pro Jonathan Huberdeau scored his 12th of the year with under two minutes remaining in the opening frame when he picked up a lose puck in the slot and wristed a shot over Miller's right arm. Capital's defenseman Jeff Petry was ejected for instigating a fight with Bruin's Brooks Orpik after the latter had thrown a devastating body check on Petry moments earlier.  The Caps led 9-4 in shots after one.
Washington would play the rest of the game with five defensemen but it really didn't seem to show on the ice. 
Vincent Lecavalier notched his 12th of the season on the powerplay at 7:08 of the middle stanza while one of Washington's top penalty killers, Daniel Paille was off serving a hooking minor. Washington held a 17-15 shot advantage after 40 minutes.
Jonathan Huberdeau would give the Caps back their two goal lead at 4:16 of the third as he grabbed a rebound off of a Chris Phillips blocked shot and went backhand - forehand past Miller for the insurance marker. 

1 - Jonathan Huberdeau (Was)...... Scored twice and was a +2 on the night.
2 - Brent Burns (Was).................... Scored once, was a +2 while playing almost twenty-two and a half minutes.
3 - Mike Smith (Was)..................... Washington's Mike Smith wasn't overly busy during the game but did stop 21 of 22 shots for his 31st win of the season.

Reporting For The WCHL Network....
Peter Puck

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Edmonton trips up high-flying Columbus

Oilers double up on Blue Jackets


Columbus Blue Jackets (1) vs Edmonton Oilers (2)...........
Two teams that are in a battle for first place in their respective conferences collided in Edmonton on Saturday night. The Oil were on a three game win streak including wins over tough opponents in Colorado and New York Rangers. The 'Jackets are 5-5 in their past ten, most recently topping the Blues 4-1.
The first period was quite uneventful, with no goals or penalties to report. Columbus led in shots 8-6.
The second period saw Columbus open the scoring on the road with Brent Seabrook's seventh of the season on the powerplay at 6:15, assists going to Chris Kunitz and Mike Richards, with Rob Scuderi service two for hooking. Steve Bernier tied it up for the home side at 13:13, on helpers by Ruslan Fedotenko and Vern Fiddler. The Oilers led 15-14 on shots after 40 minutes.
It didn't take the hosts long to grab the lead in the third as Brooks Laich was sent in free on a bullet pass from Marek Zidlicky right off the puck drop and snapped it through the five hole of Semyon Varlamov who was distracted by a pretty blonde in the second row who was apparently flashing him at the time of the shot. Brad Richards got the second assist with the clean face off win back to Zidlicky. Edmonton out-shot Columbus in the game 26-24
1 - Ilya Bryzgalov (Edm)......... Breezy stopped 23 shots on the night, most of them of the "very impressive" ilk.
2 - Brooks Laich (Edm).......... Brooks scored the winner playing just over twenty minutes with three huge hits on the night.
3 - Steve Bernier (Edm)........ Bernier scored in the first to draw Edmonton even but was barely visable the rest of the night.

Reporting For The WCHL Network....
Peter Puck

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Team wrap around: New York Rangers

Rangers still rockin' the WCHL


There has been plenty to celebrate for the Rangers.

The Rangers.... well there is not allot you can say about the dynasty from the Apple that hasn't already been said. In the first issue of "who do we choose" the league has voted on the Rangers as the best, and maybe the ultimate team in the WCHL. Having won 2 cups in a row until the Ducks remade themselves, the Rangers can claim 3rd place in the pantheon that is the WCHL hall of fame right next to the SJ Sharks, and the afore mentioned Ducks.

Most would assume the Penguins were in there too, as they always seem to be a threat, but the Rangers have easily doubled up on the Pens and their draft approach to winning a championship.

The Rangers are a well thought out team, a team that most would be envious of. Like every great dynasty, the Rangers started with the goaltender. Henrik Lundqvuist is arguably the best tender the NY fans have ever had on their squad, even with the memories of Richter and his outrageous performances of the early 90's, today we see Lundy playing out a 1.84 gaa with a .935 Sa%. He is #2 in wins, #5 In Sa% and all around one of the top 3 goalies the league has ever seen. There is no worries on net for the Rangers, and in fact, he will provide them with a very possible chance to gain their 3rd cup this year, and move up in the world.


Henrik Lundqvist has been a key difference maker in New York

The other leader for the Rangers, the one who doesn't have to spend his time between two pipes is Anze Kopitar. Possibly the coolest name of any player in the NHL(WCHL) Anze usually leads his ragtag group to fame and fortune, and this year is no different since he has posted 13-38-51 to come in at #4 right behind Ovi and his flailing group. There is a bright spot on every team, but NYR has many really...... considering their love for low priced talent, and their ability to keep on bringing the young guys in and avoiding those out-of-order UFA prices, you should expect the Rangers to compete EVERY year for another cup to add to their trophy case.


Its good to be King

The hits don't stop there. NYR has delicately chosen their squad, hand picked the pieces to the puzzle that is the WCHL cup. No stone has been left unturned in the quest for the big prize, and another example of that is Shaner Doan. Yeah we said it... SHANER. A  reliable and solid first liner, bringing all the old School that Anze lacked to a team that could use that intangible to their advantage. There is a damn reason that the Rangers fist line is a solid threat, and it isn't Landeskog who really should pull up his little girl panties and move on down the line.

You all voted the Rangers the best in the league out of the choices provided, and there is a damn good reason for that. So... what is that reason? Well none other than GM Andrew "hard ass" Don. A guy who knows the ins and outs of the WCHL as good or better than the commissioner himself. While Andy may be the bane of many a GM's existence, and a persistent thorn in the side of every GM who is trying to cut a " good deal" for their team, there is something he is even better at.... and that is running team.


GM Andrew Don aims to make the Rangers an elite team for a long time
Don't ever take the Rangers for a sucker team, ever when they are down and out, looking like Ali against Frazer in 71', they will come back like Ali in 74..... you just wiki that shit yourselves.

The Rangers are always good. Always a threat. And since we have discussed their Brick wall goalie..... their illustrious leader on the ice with Anze, and their  dictator of a leader off the ice in Mr. Don, we need to turn our focus to their outstanding defense in the form of Timo and Seidenberg, who combine fro 34 points so far, in a league where the defensive scoring has dropped off about 75%. NYR's defense has scooped up 4th spot in goals against, with Timo clocking on at #5 for defensive scoring. This is a stalwart group, but they have their flaws, DI is not one of them. GM Don was careful to pick guys for his defense who demonstrated great hitting ability combined with great discipline.


In fact, there are very few flaws within the structure of this team, and the more time one spends looking at them, the more you realize that they are one of the most likely teams to win this years coveted WCHL cup. Its a game of stats, a game of opinions, and a game of well trained athletes that almost no other sport can match. For the WCHL, and our brand of hockey..... very few can contest that the NY Rangers are the very best we can put forth.


Its all or nothing in New York and they don't come up short very often. 

I leave you with the thought we all should be having..... one of awe, and another of the kind of team you NEED to beat to be effective. Don't lose sight of the goal..... beat the best, and become the best.

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Kopecky bests the Minnesota Wild

Wild left feeling Blue in a shootout


St. Louis Blues (4) vs Minnesota Wild (3) - SO......
The Minnesota Wild hosted the Western Conference's top team in the St.Louis Blues on Saturday night. St.Louis trying to keep their slim lead on Anaheim while the Wild just hoped to keep pace with Vancouver and Arizona in the race for a chance to host a playoff series opener.
The Wild jumped out to a 2-0 lead after twenty minutes on two special teams goals, both by Jiri Hudler (18,19th). The first came at 15:44 while the Wild were a man short. Hudler deflected a Jay Bouwmeester slapper that squeaked through a screened Niklas Backstrom. Then with just four seconds left in the first Hudler struck again as he wristed a shot past Backstrom that the goalie wish he could do over. Minny led in shots 12-10 after 20.
The middle stanza was uneventful with Minny holing a 23-16 shot lead after forty minutes.
Hudler would add his third point on the night as he assisted on Tyler Bozak's twenty-first goal of the season on the powerplay. Bozak, got ahold of his own rebound and hammered the puck past a bewildered Backstrom. Just when the game looked out of reach, the Blues found their second wind and rattled off a trio of goals in three minutes and fifteen seconds to tie the game at 3-3 after sixty minutes, Jiri Tlusty scored his 6th on the powerplay at 13:15 as he snapped a Komarov rebound over an out-stretched Antti Niemi. Roman Horak made it 3-2 at 16:01 as he got to the lose puck off a face-off and drilled it through Niemi's legs. At 16:30, Travis Zajac beat Kyle Brodziak in the circle to the left of Niemi and simply hammered the puck where it dropped, catching the tender back on his heels to tie the game at threes to send the game into extra time.
There was no scoring in overtime, so off to shoot-out they went. The Blues' Tomas Kopecky was the only shooter to hit pay-dirt in the "skills competition", thus bringing St.Louis all the way back for the win.
1 - Jiri Hudler (Min)......... 2 goals, 1 assist, +1, 3 shots. Staked his team to an early lead they managed to squander.
2 - Tyler Bozak (Min)....... 1 goal, 2 assists, +1, 5 shots. Led Wild in shots, was all over the ice.
3 - Roman Horak (St.L)...... 1 goal, +1. Played just short of ten minutes, recorded his first WCHL goal.

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