Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Guest Post: How Will the Olympic Break Affect those New York Rangers?

Timing is everything; that’s how the saying goes, and timing may be something that is all important for the New York Rangers, who are on a roll at the moment. With the NHL season coming to an abrupt halt in a few days’ time, it’s worth discussing how the Olympic break will affect the franchise.

We won’t get any NHL action until the 27th February, and
that, for a side that is building momentum through the season, could become a problem. As things stand, they have a 27- 16-3 record since starting 3-7-0 and it might be that this break could hurt the Rangers playoff push - or will it?

The season as a whole for the Rangers is probably a better one than some fans who bet on NHL expected when you look at the roster overall. It has to be said that they are playing well as a team.

One good thing that may come out of the break is that, although a number of players will represent the Rangers in Sochi, they do have others who will be getting a break as they gear up for what could be a brutal end to the season.

 Looking at that schedule, when the Rangers resume playing, they will have 24 games left in their season and 13 of them will come on the road; that includes a tough four-game run away from home. 

March looks tough with 16 games scheduled in the month and there are three back-to-back contests looming with two of those coming on the road. It looks a mighty busy schedule with lots of ice-time and plenty of traveling too. That will lead to a conundrum; can they maintain their playoff push whilst conserving something for the playoffs - if they get there?

The Rangers management will be glad to see their leading goal-scorer, Rick Nash, taking part in Sochi – he missed a good part of the early season and his participation in the Olympics will allow him to come back fit and eager to go for that playoff push.

There are potential positives and negatives, but there are more positives to be had. The Sochi- bound Blueshirts will remain in game shape; they will gain valuable experience, and they will get to have some fun. For the same reason, the players that remain at home will have some much needed rest and recuperation as they set themselves up for the playoff run.

It could look like a hindrance to some people betting on NHL but this break might just give the Rangers the best of both worlds for their roster and allow them to push for the post season after the Olympic break – the timing might not be so bad after all.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Guest Feature: Is the NHL Sacrificing Goalies for Entertainment?

A proposed reduction in the size of goaltenders’ pads could have implications for the league’scustodians.

The NHL would like to see a reduction in the height of the goalie pad above the knee, as well asmaking kneepads more conforming and less bulky. There is a belief that these changes will open room between the legs and result in more opportunities for offense.

But, with less than two months to the beginning of the 2013-14 campaign, time is running out for the NHL to make changes, and so it looks as though the league may have to be satisfied with a reduction of 10 per cent (about two inches) in the top thigh-rise section of the pads.

Of course, a two-inch reduction at the top of the pads would create a four-inch fire-hole that was not there last year.

Will a reduction in pad size automatically lead to a better game with more goals for NHL betting fans to fawn over – and will the success of any proposed changes set a precedent for more and greater alterations to a goaltenders’ attire?

Perhaps the next item will see the reduction in size of the kneepads, and then the possibility of the chest and arm protectors. Perhaps after that, the agenda could include the size of goalie masks.

Will all of this lead to the point where the NHL eliminate the need for a goal minder and just put an extra player on the ice? That would definitely lead to more goals – but at what cost?

How many young goalies are going to work hard and make it to the NHL only to be injured and have their careers shortened or ended because the NHL cares more about score lines than safety?

As fans who follow the NHL betting odds will no doubt be aware, safety does not pay the bills, but neither does having your team lose games because the starting goalie is injured all the time - and who says that games that are goal feasts are always exciting?

Has goal tending now developed to such a level where limiting the equipment that the guys are using is the only way of putting the advantage back with the shooters?

There’s no denying that pads have become larger as a better quality of stick has increased the speed of shots, but cleaving off protection to ensure those same shots hit home can only result in more bruises and breaks for players in an already vulnerable position.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review: Ice Hockey Slots Game Break Away

For hockey fans, the exciting thrill of watching their favourite team take to the ice is a feeling that seems unparalleled. However, many hockey fans are finding that online casino slot machines have done an excellent job of providing slot machine offerings that capture all the raw fun of the sport of ice hockey. This provides fans a way to enjoy their game when it’s not being played. One of the best ice hockey slot machine games is Break Away.

Created by Microgaming, one of the best names in slot machine design, Break Away is a five reel slot machine that can be found at places like Mobile Casino Canada. One of the impressive features of this game is that it has a total of 243 paylines, which is almost unheard of in the world of slot machines. In this way, Break Away sets itself apart from other games. The coin denominations in this game vary from as small as .01 to a much as $50 for each spin. The symbols on the reels of Break Away all come from ice hockey. Expect to find symbols like rinks, goalie masks, Zambonis, hockey players and pucks. The Break Away logo can be used to replace any of the regular symbols to allow for additional winning opportunities.

Smashing wilds end up making a whole reel wild for a lot of different combinations to win. The flaming puck symbol is valuable in that it can trigger the free spins feature. Players must have three or more of these symbols to obtain the free spins. They can win 15, 20 or 25 free spins. When in this feature, any money won will have a multiplier applied to it which further increases its amount. The more winning combinations that are spun, the greater the multiplier becomes. Players find this can quickly cause one’s winnings to soar.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Let's Talk About This; That Nate Gerbe Thing

So I feel almost obligated to throw something together here on that whole Nate Gerbe / Dan O'Halloran kerfluffle from last Thursday.  Hell, it's my stupid Youtube video that's got 25,000 views in a week.

Anyways, if you haven't seen it, give it a view.

OK, you're caught up.  Well, no, you're not.  Let's take a step back.

This here was Nate Gerbe's first game back from back surgery.  Soak that in, a professional hockey player, back surgery.  A discectomy. A different herniated disc.  No matter what way you look at it, Nate Gerbe gets boarded, hit in the numbers, in his first game back from back surgery.

Lo and behold, he's freaking pissed off after getting up, presumably after checking for movement in all his extremities, and he's up into Drayson Bowman (the offendor) and I think that shit-stain Chad LaRose.  Bowman, by the way, got just 2 minutes for that board.

But for whatever reason, Dan O'Halloran decided that the guy who just got boarded, all 5'4'' of him, deserved a pretty humiliating collar grab and push into the glass.

In what world is that OK?  Imagine the size of the Shanaban if Gerbe would've even ripped O'Halloran's hands off his sweater.  To be frank, if this is an average sized NHLer, is Dannyboy propping up his shoulder pads into the boards? Shit no.

So, I thought, hey, everyone in the world thinks this is pretty wholly inappropriate.  O'Halloran would have to be reprimanded in some way for his behavior, right?

Well, unless it came directly from his paycheck, it's not readily apparent.  Looking at his working schedule before and since then...

1/21Buffalo @ Toronto
1/24Buffalo @ Toronto
1/25Washington @ New Jersey
1/26Toronto @ NY Rangers
1/29Dallas @ Detroit

This tells me a couple things, first off, he certainly wasn't suspended for his inappropriate behavior. It also tells me that he's a shit ass referee, doesn't get in the lineup until the 3rd day of the season? C squad O'Halloran, even though he's the 6th most tenured stripe (out of 41).  Also, he must be paid based on how many Ws he can deliver to Toronto, he must have a terrible, terrible commission bonus.

 I'm sure that the Zebra Union wouldn't be caught dead publicly admitting shitty officiating (they employ Fred L'Ecuyer for God's sakes), but I'd definitely be curious to hear if the payroll tax wasn't the only thing making his wallet feel a little lighter.

Anyway, as shitty as this came across, it might've just been the context of "hey you just leave the poor little kid alone you big bully!" whereas this just absolutely amazing video of Mick McGeough manhandling Darcy Tucker gets me all squirrely in my pants.

Way to go McGoo. Way to go.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sweet Mother of God

Brought to the masses by @MLSE. The most egregious thing I've ever seen.

Zung Nguyen (Rogue Squadron) Player Profile

 And before they take it down...an image.

In Brendan Shanahan's world this is a 2 game suspension.

 My reaction?

Friday, December 9, 2011

And Here We Thought It Was Different This Time

Yesterday, while listening to terrestrial radio, the Who came on.  That's not extraordinary in any way shape or form, as listening to the Who and not being 63 makes me awesome.  No, it was that line in "Won't Get Fooled Again" that had me sit up and blurt out "God Damned Shanahan." You know the line "meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

God damned Shanahan indeed.  It takes a certain level of travesty to force me out of my literary hibernation, but watching Marc-Andre Bourdon skate 13:46 last night against the Penguins while we hear injury reports describing Nathan Gerbe as "dark" and "unclear", well, that's basically enough to do it.

Thanks to the ubiquitous HockeyFights.com; here's the video of the offending play.

Gerbe turns his back to the ice as he redirects the clear into the offensive zone; Bourdon puts his shoulder between the numbers.

So what's the big deal? Players stupidly turn their backs on the play all the time.  Well, the problem is consistency.

There's been a total of 7 boarding related suspensions in the league so far this season, the longest being Jody Shelley's 5 preseason + 5 regular season (http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=60&id=124282) suspension, the shortest Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond's 4 preseason + 1 regular season (http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=60&id=124228).  Regular season only suspensions have only been 2 or 3 games.

I would have to say the most similar precedent would be Kris Letang's 2 game suspension for boarding Alex Burmistrov, both chipping pucks out and away, both have their backs turned, and both "make no sudden movements immediately prior to or simultaneous with the check."

The only differences I see is Bourdon does drive through Gerbe nor does he have a prior history like Letang does.  Although, Gerbe is injured and out indefinitely.

So in Shanahan's world, that's the difference between a 2 minute boarding call (without a hearing) and a 2 night suspension.  But why? Where's the consistency, where's the transparency, why the difference?

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stunning Tribute to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl from Dinamo Riga

I'm not sure if this video has floated out and around the hockeysphere yet, but if it hasn't, well, it's a well done tribute to the 44 lost.

Well done Latvia.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Setting Them Up To Fail

Oh hi, didn't see you there.  Bet you didn't expect this; me? Writing? Crap?  Guess you did expect that last one.  Today I was setting upon a chair, as I am wont to do while at work, and was thinking about how freakin' fantastic last year's rookie crop really was.  3 guys topped 30 goals, 4 more topped 20, 10 in all topped 40 points, 29 had over 20.  Compare that with last years rookies, no 30 goal scorers, 4 had 20, only 5 over 40 points, 21 over 20. Good stuff right?  Right.  But then, being the eternal pessimist I am, also known as a Buffalo Sabres fan, I started thinking about who exactly set themself up to fail.

Then I started thinking about this and couldn't quit laughing.

Ok, back on track.  Let's take a look at the top 15 rookie point getters from last season; just look at the graph (that will probably be terribly formatted).

Jeff Skinner
Logan Couture
Michael Grabner
Tyler Ennis
Derek Stepan
Jordan Eberle
Kevin Shattenkirk
Taylor Hall
Brad Marchand
Cam Fowler
P.K. Subban
Bryan Bickell
John Carlson
Magnus Paajarvi
Jamie McBain

Oh it's so bulgy, it's like a moose.  Anyways; top 15 in point scoring among rookies there.  Now let's look back to the rookie crop from 2009-2010 where Tyler Myers won the Calder.

Here we've got the 2009-2010 rookie stats juxtaposed against the 2010-2011 follow up campaign.  LEGEND: If the box is yellow the number is greater than the rookie season, if red, then it's less, if blue, then it's identical. Got it? Good.

You can see a lot of the top tier forward prospects, those whose ice time increased or maintained top line status, saw their numbers continue to grow with their development.  Duchene, Tavares, Benn, Anisimov, Bozak, and Kane all saw their numbers increase with the jump to greater ice time with greater linemates.

Where is there a slump?  Outside of Erik Karlsson, the defensemen languished with their increased role and ice time.  Hell, Del Zotto found himself in Connecticut part of the season.  Without being protected by some vets, and in Myers and Del Zottos cases, sometimes flat out exposed, really saw a shift in their production.

More in depth? OK.  Tyler Myers was slated on the 1B pair with Henrik Tallinder during his rookie season, not necessarily playing night in and night out against the oppositions greatest talent.  In fact, Myers' "Quality of Teammates" fell from .182 to .078, while his Quality of Competition stats still stayed above 0 (one of only 2 Sabres defensemen in 2011 with such numbers).  In addition to that, he regularly got  PP time, which was diminished when the Sabres brought in Jordan Leopold as a free agent.  So, look at that, increased responsibility, with weaker teammates, and less PP time, means less results.

Let's take it one more year back.

So here again we see a pretty similar set of circumstances where folks fell back to earth from their rookie year to their sophomore campaign.  Let's specifically just take a look at what happened to Patrik Berglund from 2009 to 2010.

Remember in 2008 - 2009 the St. Louis Blues traded for Alex Steen (for some reason) about a quarter of the way through Berglund's rookie season, creating a crowded dot for the centers in St. Louis, not to mention creating a competition between Berglund and fellow rookie TJ Oshie while Paul Kariya was out with concussion issues.   Oshie won that battle; moving up in 2009 - 2010 to a line with David Backes and Paul Kariya (almost 40% of the time) while Berglund remained on a lower line with Andy McDonald and David Perron.   Also fun to note; Berglund played about 15-20% of his rookie season alongside Brad Boyes who's production dropped from 72 points to 42 during this same time frame.

So I think you get the picture here.  There's a couple of reasons why rookies who seemed so promising are really actually being set up to fail (easy to see in hindsight right?).

1. Decreased ice time due to circumstances uncontrollable (Free agent signings, return from injury)
2. Quality of Competition increases
3. Quality of Teammate decreases
4. Coach's Call

(Well that makes it sound really freakin' simple)

So when you take a look back at the top rookies of 2010-2011, who's poised for a step backwards?

I've got 3 in mind right now.  Michael Grabner, Derek Stepan, and PK Subban.  Why? Boom.

1. Michael Grabner - Grabner had a fantastic run, playing in all situations for the Isles.  So where's the issue?  A full season of Nino Niederreiter and Kyle Okposo pushing him.  Even at only 15 minutes of ice time per night, with the Isles back healthy, Grabner might not get those same opportunities as he did last season after being pulled off waivers.  Not to mention the fact that he doesn't play with Tavares.

2. Derek Stepan  - The Rangers Center situation suddenly got very crowded after July 1.  With Brad Richards and Brandon Dubinsky ahead of Stepan on the depth chart, and comparable statistics to Boyle and Anisimov, there won't be nearly as much ice time to go around, and it won't be with Gaborik or Callahan.

3. PK Subban - I'm far more sure of the above than this selection, but I still think Subban will take a step back.  With Hamrlik and Wisniewski heading out of Montreal, Subban's ice time is certainly going to rise from 4th amongst the D corps.  But, with that, Subban will see his quality of competition rise quite a bit against other teams top lines, so we could definitely see a Tyler Myers effect on his numbers.  Throw in the return of a healthy Andrei Markov, and what that means for Subban's powerplay time, and you've got yourself a recipe for a step back.

Think about it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Who's Going to Parlay a Big Playoff to a Big Payday?

I find myself starting these types of posts without any clear indication where I'm going with it; just a question I want to know the answer to.  So I figure; if in all my glory I'm curious enough to sit down and start blathering away about it, then there's got to be someone else out there who's wondering the same thing.

So after watching last night's throwdown, I started wondering, what guys are going to paid for a relatively decent playoff showing?  I guess that means RFAs who blossomed, mid-season acquisitions with a career resurgence, or maybe the Druce-types who explode come playoff time.  We'll find out.  So, boom; let's go.

Sean Bergenheim, LW, Tampa Bay Lightning
How fortuitous of Mr. Bergenheim, him of 14 regular season goals and 29 regular season points, to suddenly turn into Steven Stamkos.  With 8 postseason goals (currently leading the playoffs), you can bet that the 27 year old Bergenheim is going to get a hefty raise, and term, from the $700,000 1 year deal he signed last Summer.

Joel Ward, RW, Nashville Predators
Contract years make guys do crazy awesome things.  Joel Ward was no exception during the Predators playoff run.  Coming up on the final moments of his 2 year, $3 million (total) contract, Ward went 10 goals, 29 points during the regular season.  Playoffs? He played over a PPG pace, leading the Preds in goals, assists, plus/minus, and power play goals; scoring 13 points in 12 games (7 goals, 6 assists).  The 30 year old had one more chance to get paid, he did what he needed to do.  Now if only he would've had a little help.

Ville Leino, LW, Philadelphia Flyers 
It's hard to believe that Leino was only making $800,000 this year as is; add in a solid, not spectacular playoff run (how the hell was Leino barely averaging more ice time than Scott Hartnell?) and he's bound to get a raise, like a 200% raise.

Marc-Andre Gragnani, D, Buffalo Sabres
If there was one guy this playoff season that you were like "Who the shit is that guy?" It was probably Marc-Andre Gragnani, who ran with his chance after some inauspicious play from Sabres blueliners.  Making a mere $500,000 he led the Sabres in playoff points and assists, coming in with 7 in 7.  Looks like he'll be in the blue and gold permanently next season, with a bigger paycheck.

Eric Brewer, D, Tampa Bay Lightning
Eric Brewer's time in St. Louis was obviously coming to an end.  Riddled with injuries and "overpaid", not to mention the increased roles for Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk towards the end of the year, Brewer was jettisoned off to Tampa without hesitation.  With 6 points in 13 playoff games, and a towering presence in front of Dwayne Roloson, there's a chance Brewer gets one more shot at some cash, definitely not $4.25 million again, but enough to feed his family (if he had like 800 kids).

Ray Emery, G, Anaheim Ducks
Although he couldn't save the Ducks from the surprising Predator's run, he did get the Ducks to wear they were after some seriously surprising play.  He won't really be needed in Anaheim once Lucille Austero, rather, Jonas Hiller, returns from vertigo, but the late season run he pulled together will be enough to get him signed to something greater than a $500 K contract. 

Scott Hannan, D, Washington Capitals
A lot went wrong in the series against Tampa Bay, but it can't really fall on the shoulders of the 32 year old Hannan.  Coming in with the 2nd most TOI of any Capital in the playoffs, as well as providing that needed physical edge on the blueline, Hannan proved his worth to his new mates.  Unfortunately, Hannan won't be making $4.5 million next season, but if he would've stayed in Colorado, he'd be making a hell of a lot less next year than he's set to now.  I guarantee it.

"How many times do I have to tell you? Backcheck...douche"
Jason Arnott, C, Washington Capitals
Take Jason Arnott out of the uber-disciplined Lemaire regime and throw him into a disheveled, lackadaisical  mess like the midseason Washington Capitals and what do you get?  Outside of a crying Alexander Semin we saw a Capital turnaround into the Eastern Conference champions.  While Arnott proved he still had plenty in the tank, and plenty of clout in the locker room, he'll definitely be signing, somewhere, next year, with a bigger paycheck than if he would've stayed with the Devils.  Yeah; he'll take a cut from the $4.5 million he made last year, but it'll be worth it.

So what do you think?  Good mix here I'd say.  We've got the role players who blossomed under the pressure, vagabonds who made good, some young'ns who're gonna get bigger raises, and the wily vets who're gonna get a little more out of that last contract than they would have otherwise.

Hell maybe I'm writing this too early and a guy like Tanner Glass or Kent Huskins is going to go buck wild and dominate for 8 straight games.  Doubt it, but you never know.

We'll revisit this.  Maybe. Next year.  Maybe July 1st.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Shenanigans Ahoy in Buffalo

The Flyers aren't used to being pushed around; they're usually the ones being the big, bad bullies.  They're the ones usually shrugging off the incessant whines of the opposition, and their fans, about getting away with murder on the ice.

The Sabres aren't usually the team heading into the corners with reckless abandon; clearing Ryan Miller's crease with welt producing cross checks; they're supposed to keep their play to the perimeter, use their team speed to make pylons out of opposition bluelines.  They're the ones who find themselves speaking out on the stick infractions that have crept back into the "New NHL"; they're the ones strewn about the ice after being railroaded by the bigger, stronger rosters.

But here we are, heading into a best of 3 starting Friday, and that's the exact opposite situation we find ourselves in.  That's playoff hockey.

What exactly led us to this point?  As it stands through 4 games the Sabres have (in the most subjective of stats) 117 hits to the Flyers 105. But it's not just Pat Kaleta who's getting under the Flyers skin, it's the sudden thick skin that developed around the Sabres, eliciting reactions like the elbow to the chin of Kaleta by Mike Richard's that launched Flyer Phans into a frenzy and sent the Captain to the box for a questionable 5 minutes.

Of course the hockey Gods spoke with the 5 minutes PP being one of the worst ever run on this planet.  Richard's explanation of his actions? "I saw him take a couple of hard strides at me. I had to protect myself. They're not going to call anything, so I had to protect myself."

Those words are telling.  The Flyers seem to feel, as punctuated by their frustrated leader, that the Refs have it in for them (remember now; 28 minors called against Buffalo so far, 24 against Philadelphia, just so you know, that it ain't true) and they'll be taking care of things on their own.

Like say, for example, the 2 minute "slashing" call levied to noted pugilist Kimmo Timonen for his upsy-daisy on Nathan Gerbe at 00:00 of the 3rd period.  Video, naturally.

Now of course that's not to say the Sabres are innocent of the goonish behavior that is warranting such vigilante on-ice justice.  Of course it's almost all coming from your friend and mine, Patrick Kaleta.

And Mike Weber and Tyler Myers were doing the kind of crease clearing that we're predisposed to seeing Chris Pronger dish out.  Again; not something the Flyers are used to; not at all. Like here. And here.

Of course, who could forget the move that has Flyers' fans bouncing off the walls (while the fans of 29 other franchises laughed hysterically.  Go ahead, ask, they did), Kaleta conveniently, inconspicuously, coyly, opens the door for his teammates to enter the bench, except it seems that Nik Zherdev was in the midst of a scrum on it.

Add it all up and what do you get?  One of the best damn Friday nights of your life.  And a pretty entertaining morning on Twitter.
Fact: BanginPanger is not meant as an insult to the one and only Darren Pang, nor do I claim to be him. The views and opinions presented on BanginPanger are of my own, and no other namesake of the site, the NHL, Buffalo Sabres, Washington Capitals, or anyone else.