Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hockey Day in Canada.

Oh Hockey Day in Canada... so heartwarming.

Every year the CBC spends the day broadcasting from a small town somewhere in Canada. They also manage to get three games in there, featuring all six Canadian teams and as well as hockey stories and minor league games from across the country. It is extremely cute and gives Ron MacLean ample opportunity to make puns.

It went well, I spent the day plunked on my chesterfield being completely lazy (although i did play a bit of pond on the the terribly soft ice we've got right now) and now I've got some thoughts on the games.

Game 1 — Kovalev's revenge.

Alexei Kovalev was forced by GM Bob Gainey to sit out the last two-game road trip. With that trade rumours swirled and fans wondered.

Apparently there was more than met the eye (and the media).

Kovalev told reporters that he has felt tired this season, has inexplicatly lost weight (which blood tests have been unable to explain), and he felt the break given by Gainey was good for him.

"I have no idea why this has been happening for the last few months,
but I feel better now," he said. "The last few days are going to help

Well it seems like it did help.

Kovalev was on fire the entire game. He made a lot of beautiful passes and scored a classic Kovalev goal where he stripped the puck from a Senators defensemen and put one away with his super-quick release.

Also it seems the fans were pulling for him too. A friend of mine was at the Bell Centre for the game (jealousy) and he sent a text to say that Kovalev recieved the biggest pre-game cheer from the crowd.

Perhaps sentiments helped along by the fact that "party-gate" came out while Kovalev was on his break.

Another thing I noticed was the powerplay of the Canadiens. And for once it wasn't because it was deplorable.

I've joked about the news that the Canadiens have traded for Mathieu Schneider — but it almost seems to be working. They had a deplorable roadtrip in Washington and Pittsburgh (although when Ovechkin does this sometimes it can't be helped.)

But the powerplay looked fabulous last night. They were passing like the Canadiens of last year and Schneider seems to have fit in nicely as the new PP quarterback.

On the other side — Ottawa had Mike Comrie in the lineup. No this isn't 2007, the Senators traded for him.

The Senators general manager reacquired Comrie and defenseman Chris Campoli from the New York Islanders for centre Dean McAmmond and a first-round draft pick.

To help understand what draft pick the Senators traded away I am using an excerpt from "The 2009 first-rounder heading to the Islanders originally belonged to San Jose, which included the pick in the Andrej Meszaros-Filip Kuba trade with the Senators on Aug. 29, 2008."

Got it? No? Oh well.

What I think this is trying to say is that the Senators will still have their own first round pick should they tank their season (which is very possible). So don't worry, Sens fans, your dreams of Victor Hedman are still very much alive.

Comrie is an unrestricted free agent on July 1. I'm betting this will be one of those one-night stands. However Campoli, a puck-moving defenseman is making less than a million and he's under contract until the end of next season.

Oh yah... the final score: Montreal 5, Ottawa 3

Game 2 — The Return of the Sundin.

It's the kind of stuff that makes you think hockey might be fake... you know, like wrestling. Someone is scripting this stuff, right?

Stuff doesn't work out this perfectly.
Sundin makes his return to the team he played for for 13 years (on Hockey Day in Canada, no less) and scores the final goal in the shootout to win it for the Leafs Canucks.

I am pleased to see that the Leafs fans didn't act like a bunch of fools and boo him. During a television timeout he received a huge standing ovation that lasted until it was time for puck drop, for which he was on the ice. The refs stood back and let him gather himself.

Good job Toronto fans.

Score: Canucks 3 Leafs 2 (Shootout)

Game 3 — Squeezing the stick a little too hard.

Edmonton... to win a shootout you need to hit the net. All three shooters for the Oilers couldn't even get a shot on Kiprusoff.

Sam Gagner actually lost the puck on the way into the net. The look on Craig MacTavish's face was absolutely priceless.

Score: Calgary 3, Edmonton 2 (shootout)

Overtime — Final thoughts on the day.

- I am actually really sick of "Hockeyville". It was cool the first year, but it's beginning to get repetitive and kind of seems like filler.
- I was a bit skeptical about the CBC picking up PJ Stock as their sort of... well.. what does he do? Anyway, he has really grown on me. He cracks me up, his self-deprecating humour is refreshing. You could tell it took some time for him to work out the kinks of broadcasting but I think he's got it now... he's definitely brought some spice to the CBC set which can sometimes seem a little bit too serious. His blog posts also crack me up, I can just picture him saying this stuff.
- Alexander Ovechkin is absolutely dismantling the NHL this year (see video above) — he got his 43rd goal today (8 more goals than the nearest challenger... although Crosby and Malkin both have more points) and he had a slow start. Unreal. Crosby and Ovechkin had a little battle through the media today. Ovechkin said Crosby talks too much and Crosby said he doesn't like Ovechkin's showboating on the ice. Not exactly Avery versus Phaneuf but still fun.

And that's it for my epic Sunday afternoon post. Somebody get me a beer.

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