Archive for the 'NHL' Category

Three Things I Think: Big Ten, March 14

Monday, March 14th, 2016

The final weekend in Big Ten play has concluded, and the tournament brackets have been set. On Thursday, Penn State will play Wisconsin and Ohio State will play Michigan State. The winner of Penn State-Wisconsin will face Michigan and the other winner will play Minnesota.

Ohio State beat Michigan State 6-5 and then tied 101. The Gophers lost 4-3 to Wisconsin before winning 4-1.

Michigan needed to win to beat out Penn State for the second seed, and they finished with weekend with a statement sweep. The Wolverines won 7-1 and 6-1 over Penn State. The sweep puts the Wolverines in a better position to win the Big Ten, although they don’t need to win to make the NCAA tournament.

Every other team has to win to make the NCAA tournament. Since Minnesota has the bye, they have the best chance at getting the automatic bid. The only way for the Gophers to make the tournament is through that championship.

(After the jump: Déjà vu, can there be an upset and watch out for Ohio State)


Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Jan. 11

Monday, January 11th, 2016

The weekend of Big Ten action featured a sweeps, a series split and a win/loss and a tie. Michigan swept Michigan State, Ohio State defeated and tied Wisconsin while Penn State split with Minnesota.Michigan scored 15 goals over the weekend, defeating the Spartans by a combined score of 15-5. Penn State defeated Minnesota 3-2 in overtime on Friday night, while Minnesota won 7-1. The Buckeyes beat the Badgers 2-0 before settling for a 4-4 tie the next night.

The most interesting series of the weekend were Penn State-Minnesota and Ohio State-Wisconsin. I’m not surprised the Gophers and Nittany Lions split, although I am surprised that Minnesota limited Penn State to four goals in two games … and scored seven of its own in one game.

As far as the Badgers and Buckeyes are concerned, the Buckeyes have the edge – for now. The results say that Ohio State, which has played well against most teams all season, is definitely a better team than Wisconsin. But where can the Buckeyes finish?

We learned some things from conference play, but it’s hard to tell if these impressions will hold as the season progresses.

(After the jump: Michigan State’s fate, a defensive test and the surprise team)


NHL Draft Picks in the Frozen Four

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

The 2014 Frozen Four is underway. Boston College is taking on Union, while Minnesota and North Dakota will face off tonight. Between the four teams, 39 drafted players will take the ice at the Wells Fargo Center. Here are all the NHL draft picks playing in the Frozen Four, broken up by NHL team:

Anaheim Ducks – Keaton Thompson (North Dakota)

Boston Bruins – Ryan Fitzgerald (BC), Zane Gothberg (North Dakota)

Buffalo Sabres – Christian Isackson (Minnesota)

Calgary Flames – Johnny Gaudreau (BC), Bill Arnold (BC)

Chicago Blackhawks – Chris Calnan (BC), Kevin Hayes (BC), Nick Mattson (North Dakota), Luke Johnson (North Dakota), Justin Holl (Minnesota)

Colorado Avalanche – Nate Condon (Minnesota)

Columbus Blue Jackets – Mike Reilly (Minnesota), Seth Ambroz (Minnesota)

Detroit Red Wings – Ben Marshall (Minnesota)

Edmonton Oilers – Dillon Simpson (North Dakota)

Florida Panthers – Michael Matheson (BC), Ian McCoshen (BC), Rocco Grimaldi (North Dakota), Kyle Rau (Minnesota)

Los Angeles Kings – Paul LaDue (North Dakota), Hudson Fashing (Minnesota)

Minnesota Wild – Adam Gilmour (BC)

Montreal Canadiens – Mark MacMillan (North Dakota)

Nashville Predators – Wade Murphy (North Dakota)

New Jersey Devils – Steve Santini (BC), Derek Rodwell (North Dakota)

New York Islanders – Jake Bischoff (Minnesota), Taylor Cammarata (Minnesota)

New York Rangers – Brady Skjei (Minnesota)

Philadelphia Flyers – Shayne Gostisbehere (Union), Michael Parks (North Dakota)

San Jose Sharks – Isaac MacLeod (BC), Gage Ausmus (North Dakota), Michael Brodzinski (Minnesota)

St. Louis Blues – Jordan Schmaltz (North Dakota)

Tampa Bay Lightning – Brendan O’Donnell (North Dakota), Adam Wilcox  (Minnesota)

Washington Capitals – Travis Boyd  (Minnesota)

NCAA Player NHL Development Camp Participation 2013

Monday, July 8th, 2013

With the NHL season and the draft over, a number of former, current and future NCAA players are participating in development camps. Some have already closed with others getting under way this week or later this month. Here’s a list of the players and the organization(s) they’re working out with. Not all 30 NHL franchises have released their rosters at the moment. The page will be updated as they are unveiled.

Some players have received invites from multiple organizations.

Players in italics are camp invitees. Their rights are not owned by the organization hosting them at development camp. For graduated players, some of them aren’t italicized even though they should be because I wasn’t sure if they had been signed to contracts or not. Let me know of any specific cases.

(Note: If you see any mistakes or omissions, let me know on Twitter. @JoeMeloni. There’s a lot of information here, and I’m almost certain I messed up a couple things.) (more…)

NHL Calculus

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

After all these years, I still don’t understand calculus very much. But I have gotten a better handle on how I calculate which NHL teams to root for during the playoffs.

My favorite NHL team, the New York Islanders, hasn’t won a playoff series since 1993. They have only been to the playoffs four times since then, and — damn you Darcy Tucker — lost a seven-game thriller with Toronto in 2002. (Shawn Bates and Jason Blake were key players in that year.)

So generally speaking, when my team isn’t there, rooting interest comes down to this:

* other people in the organization, or on the team, that I know well
* teams with a lot of college players in general
* what’s good for hockey, in the sense of a) wanting the best players to play on the big stage; b) seeing teams that haven’t won before, or recently, win; c) seeing teams in non-traditional areas do well
* making a bold prediction and wanting to be proven right

Putting all that together, the Eastern conference is largely a yawn right now. Who cares if Montreal, Boston or Philadelphia win? And Pittsburgh, which is fun to watch, has already had plenty of success in the last 20 years. I blame Jaroslav Halak for this conundrum.

As purely a hockey fan, putting aside all allegiances, I feel like we were robbed of a Washington-Pittsburgh rematch by Montreal’s miracle run. I really don’t even blame Washington. I know that the Capitals have a bad history, and that people questioned all year whether they would be “playoff tough” despite having the NHL’s best record in the regular season. But after dominating three straight games of that series, I really think they just ran into a goalie and a team that got monumentally fortunate for three straight games. Jaroslav Halak took the proverbial phrase “stood on his head” and made it more pertinent than ever, and the team just didn’t make a mistake. Washington poured everything at the Canadiens, and dominated the territorial play. It wasn’t like the Caps went in the tank. They just ran into a one-in-a-million three-game stretch of unbelievable-ness.

So it will be easy to dump on the Caps, but as a hockey fan, I feel robbed of that Ovechkin-Crosby matchup.

Doug Murray

Cornell graduate Douglas Murray and the Sharks are rolling in the Western Conference playoffs.

Yeah, yeah, I get the hate towards those guys, in the sense that, when you’re a fan of another team, you want so badly for them to lose. But stepping back purely as someone without a team in this hunt, it’s a delight watching those two go at it, and people who really believe that “Ovechkin sucks” or “Cindy Crosby’s a whiner,” are really just being ignorant, jealous or silly. And, yes, I know — I don’t like that Ovechkin acted like a punk at the 2005 World Juniors, and yes, I hate that Crosby scored the gold medal game winner against the U.S. this year. But those two constantly work their rear ends off, and are just brilliant — a treasure to watch.

So, consequently, I’m having to dig really hard to figure out what to do in the East.

My thinking right now is going like this — the only team that will be remotely interesting in the finals is Pittsburgh, so at this point, I guess I have to root for it to make the finals again. Even though Montreal has a Harvard guy (Dominic Moore) and a Cornell guy (Ryan O’Byrne) playing well, plus Brian Gionta (BC) and Mike Camalleri (Michigan) — who thinks he’s Wayne Gretzky all of a sudden — I’m having a hard time rooting for them. I think it’s a combination of the old rivalry with the Islanders for “dynastic supremacy,” combined with their Yankees-like history, and their fans’ booing of the U.S. national team in games vs. Russia. I don’t forgive easily.

As for the other series, I think I’m rooting for Philadelphia, just so it will get its butts handed to them by Pittsburgh in the semis. You see, I’d already been saying that Washington would crush the Flyers, but now I’ve been robbed of seeing that. And it will really bug Flyers fans to have Crosby do it to them again.

Two years ago, the Flyers were in control of the series against Pittsburgh when it decided to goon it up a bit. This thrilled the Flyers fans, who — along with the organization as a whole — like to live in the past, like it’s 30 years ago. And they sure got a hoot out of getting all over Crosby’s But all that fighting did was inspire the Penguins, who came back and swept the rest of the series. So, as someone who hates the goonery, and thinks the Flyers are doomed to keep falling short until they get out of their 1970s-era mentality, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing that all blow up in their face.

So I’ll enjoy seeing that happen again.

I used to have some affinity for the Flyers, but that has disappeared. Actually, no fan base bugs me more than the Philadelphia one, especially when I moved to the area in 1993 and got to see them up close. But I took an affinity to the Flyers for a while. First off, I can appreciate any fan base that are die hard hockey fans. For that, it’s a big thumbs up to Philly — though that passion has waned in recent years, but that’s another article. Second, when they traded for John Leclair and Eric Desjardins in the mid-’90s, I’d known LeClair from his Vermont days, and I always liked Desjardins. My friends didn’t think it was a good trade, I told them it was, and nothing is a better motivator for rooting interest than wanting to be right. I also always liked watching Eric Lindros play, and thought he was unfairly criticized. Third, I got a job in the Flyers organization in 1999. I had my ups and downs, pluses and minuses with that job, but I did get to know a lot of the people, especially John Stevens and Paul Holmgren. At the time, they were the AHL Phantoms assistant and the assistant GM to Bob Clarke, respectively. Later, Stevens became head coach (he was fired this year), and Holmgren is GM. I also have friends in the PR department, including one that I hired.

With Stevens fired and a lot of my favorites gone, it’s easier to root against the Flyers. Especially since the Phillies’ success has now made the Philly sports fan even harder to take. But I do want to see Philadelphia hockey continue to thrive, despite the corporate mentality of its Comcast owners trying to kill it, one marketing gimmick at a time.

And on the other side, we have a Boston fan base which has won far too much in the last 10 years, so boo on them. Tim Thomas, who I loved watching in college at Vermont, isn’t even playing. And warming up to Blake Wheeler isn’t exactly easy. There’s no one to love there.

For Philly, it has Hobey winner Matt Carle, plus Princeton grad Darroll Powe, who I’m still amazed made it to the NHL. Paul Holmgren upset me with comments he made about James van Riemsdyk deciding to stay at New Hampshire for a second year, and I am glad van Riemsdyk has proven me right for defending him, by jumping straight to the NHL this year precisely because he stayed in school one more season. And with injuries to Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter (yawn), the Flyers had to call up enigmatic former St. Cloud State Huskie Andrea Nodl, and Alabama-Huntsville grad Jared Ross.

The West is far more exciting, and the calculus is far easier — anyone but Detroit.

The Red Wings violate everything — great hockey town, they have some great old college guys, but they have won too many times, and they don’t need it. I do enjoy seeing Brian Rafalski, Jimmy Howard, Kent Huskins, Patrick Eaves and Justin Abdelkader, but that doesn’t overcome the other stuff. Especially because San Jose has plenty of college guys too, and is a market that I would love to see finally get some satisfaction after many close calls. San Jose also have former Badger Joe Pavelski (how can you not love that guy?), Dany Heatley, and my boy Douglas Murray, who I knew well when I was broadcaster during Cornell’s 2003 Frozen Four run.

How could you not love this series, though, with three Wisconsin products scoring in one game — Rafalski, Pavelski and Heatley — the first time that’s ever happened in the NHL? (And it was reported by a Wisconsin grad in the Versus studio, Brian Engblom.) Was happy to see San Jose move on.

The Vancouver-Chicago series is just fun to watch, because either way, it will be nice to watch that team advance. Chicago has former college guys like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp, and American Patrick Kane, but Vancouver has other pluses in its column.

Did you know, by the way, this is the most goals per game scored in the postseason since 1996. The skill has been back for a few years, but it’s just exploding now. Great to see. The ’80s and early ’90s were the last heyday, and that was still a great time. But the game is ridiculously faster and more intense now.

Hockey in Phoenix

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

I seem to be in the minority among hockey “purists” about the Phoenix NHL situation, and about Sun Belt hockey in general. They seem to ally with the cause of Canadians who lament the NHL’s Southward drift, at the expense of old-school NHL places like Winnipeg and Quebec, and perhaps new ones like Hamilton.

But, perhaps because I have seen the boon to college hockey in recent years, I don’t look at it that way. All you have to do is take a quantitative look at college hockey rosters over the last 10 years to see the impact of the game being grown in non-traditional places. First it was places like Long Island and Pittsburgh that started getting more and more college players on the rosters. But then it becames places like Washington, then Texas just exploded, followed by the Carolinas and California, and yes, even Phoenix.

The Phoenix franchise itself might stink on the ice, but they could’ve stunk anywhere. (And let’s not forget — Winnipeg and Quebec were not NHL cities until 1980.)

The fact that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman gets so roundly booed everywhere he goes in a clueless reaction, I think, on the part of most fans. I don’t even think they know what they’re booing. It’s like the Canadians who boo the American anthem.

Recently Bettman met with the NHL Players’ Association, and I found it refreshing that player rep Michael Peca (a Canadian) chose a contrarian viewpoint to many of his fellow players.

“I actually share a lot of the feelings that the commissioner conveyed about the Phoenix situation,” Peca told “When you’ve got a kid that plays hockey and you know hockey’s their life, you don’t want to ever see that taken away. You’ve got to build roots in communities.

“It’s easy to transplant a team into Toronto or Southern Ontario and it would succeed, but there’s a growing base of kids that are playing hockey and in minor hockey systems that are thriving now in these communities that you don’t want to rip away. It’s a touchy thing and hopefully those organizations work out.”

Here here to that.