Monday, January 5, 2009

2009 World Junior Hockey Championships Personal highlights!

It started out as a couple of drunken text messages on New Years day. Did you see the game tonight? yes, I did. Want to go to the next one? Yes i do? Do you? Lets get tickets!!!!!!

This lead to my brother making a 4 hour drive from the cottage in Muskoka to Ottawa, and myself flying on Porter Air from the Toronto Island Airport to Ottawa. Needless to say we were excited to make it to the nations capital, and it was for reasons of hockey.

We walked into Scotiabank Place, first as Canadians, and Secondly as Toronto Maple Leaf fans. We were fired up to see an amazing game which we travelled hundreds of kilometres to see. We entered an arena full of Senators fans, a bunch of leaf fans who gave us thumbs up(we both wore Maple Leaf Toques throughout the game), and various other street people (habs fans).

The game was a back and forth battle, that was highlighted by the Russian's speed, back checking, and will to keep coming back. Every time we thought Canada put them down a goal, they came back almost instantly. The crowd was loud and proud for Ottawa standards, though the people behind me didn't like it when I stood up a couple of Canadian breakaways (always do this at ACC and everyone else stands) .

The game came down to 2 plays, the Russian defenceman who shot the puck and iced it with about 20 seconds left. Then the face-off after, which led to a scrum, and which John Tavares threw the puck towards the net which Jordan Eberle then put in the top shelf with 5 seconds left.

This moment will always stick out in my mind, I jumped out of my seat yelling, screaming, embracing everyone around me (even fans of other NHL teams), jumping up and down in disbelief. It was one of those truly Canadian moments which those of us in the building, and watching on TSN will remember for the rest of our lives . The goal was in a scramble, not as pretty as the Gretzky-Lemieux Pass of 1987, or the Jonathan Toews shootout show against the Americans, it was more like the 1972 Henderson goal than any goal in recent memory. Being their to witness it was icing on the cake.

Once the Overtime started, and went with a few decent chances. The Canadians got looser as the 10 minutes wore on, and they had more quality chances than The Russians. Going into the shootout, the crowd was confident, as Canada had the snipers ready to take action, and they didn't dissapoint.

After watching Canada win gold tonight, my expensive trip was validated. Though 5 seconds difference could have made my trip not worthwhile. I was glad to have witnessed a classic game, rather than the antics of the Swedes tonight. All in all, I am happy that Canada has won 5 in a row.

Here is a youtube video I put together of the anthem after the game. Great patriotic stuff!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Western Road Trip and other assorted Tidbits

So the Toronto Maple Leafs gave another manic performance in against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night, and the Grabovski, Kulemin and Hagman line lit them up and took the Leafs to a 6-3 win.

The Leafs outworked, out-hustled, and out-shot the Canadiens and their smug fans which seemed to be 1/4 of the crowd at the Air Canada Centre. The Canadiens resorted to dirty play with one player getting tossed, and another slew-footing Leaf's in a couple of different race's for the puck. Tom Kotsopolos' shot on Mike Van Ryn showed the low point of the game, and he should be getting much more than 3 games. Despite his excuses after the game, there is no excuse for ramming a guy's head into the boards. Not unless you are some sort of sociopath who gets off on that.

The suspension should be higher for 1) its a divisional Rival 2) it caused multiple injuries, and 3) it was intent to injure. Anyone who plays in the NHL has the skills to let up, and not ram someone into the boards. The level of skating and contact is too sophisticated to say that the guy forgot to stop.

Western Road Trip

Its time for the yearly therapy session for Leafs' fans in Western Canada. Every Year, the barn's in Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver turn blue and white, and the Leaf fan's bring their jersey's and flags out of the closet to show their allegiance to the once proud franchise.

To you western Leaf fans, I salute you! Your dedication to the blue and white is much harder in Calgary, than say Scarborough. The fact you handle their idiotic ridicule with grace, and haven't attempted to maim anyone in the past season shows how classy Toronto Maple Leaf fans are. I expect to hear you loud and proud tonight in Calgary, while the Leafs pepper the other team with shots as usual.

What to expect out west?
Hard to say, lots of shots, some defensive lapses, and maybe some improvement on special teams. But, I will expect to hear lots of Go Leafs go! The Leafs will bring excitement to the west, and their thousands of Western Canadian fans' to their feet. Thats my kind of Road trip!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Toronto Vs Carolina wrap, as seen from the seats.....

I had the luxury of attending the Toronto Maple Leaf's home game against the Carolina Hurricanes on November 4, 2008.

Period by Period Summary.

So I get to the game early, and get my seat, in row 18, of Section 311, the last row of the upper bowl, and I notice that the speakers in front of me don't work. The sound quality sucks, is ACC becoming crappy up in the nosebleeds? Someone tell the building manager that speakers don't work in the 300s!!

Anyways on to the game. I think the Maple Leafs were more interested in the American election in the first period, their defensive zone coverage was a flop, and they were outworked, outhustled and outscored, by an outrageous 4-1. The Leafs were also close to even in shots, Toskala let in 2 soft goals, and the defence had at least 4 bad turnovers. The ACC was as quite as it should be, you could hear a pin drop, and besides the 3 Carolina fans in the building, all you could hear the collective groan of the Leaf's faithful, and Damian Cox writing a told you so article about how bad the leafs really are.

Since I was at the game and not taking notes, I don't have a box score and time ready.

Second Period.

Ron Wilson must have threatened the team with demotion to the ECHL. The Leafs catch fire and start to dominate and outwork the Canes. This game looks a lot more like Saturday night, with explosive odd man rushes, and they were rewarded for their hard work with 2 goals. The Grabovski, Hagman and Kulemin line were explosive in the offensive end, and they dominated the game with speed and cycling. They scored an excellent power-play goal, then Van-ryn brought them within 1. They were back to their ways of outshooting the opposition by a large margin, and the crowd was hot.These comebacks bring the best out of Leaf's Nation, they get much louder than under JFJ and Maurice. I have yet to hear this much passion in years in the regular season in the building.

3rd Period

3rd Period was just like the second, the Leafs had to score to tie the game, and with the shots on not at 39-20, i said to my friend the leafs have to score on the next shot!!!

They scored to tie the game, and for the most part, peppered Cam Ward with shots, but did not get any really killer chances. They continued to dominate offensively, but their lack of focus on defence led to 5-6 bad giveaways, and 2 stretches that looked like the Canes were on a power-play. The 3rd period winded down, with the Leafs missing a couple of golden opportunities including a 5-3 where Grabovski flubbed a puck he should have buried. There was subtle optimism going into the OT.


Overtime was expected to be 5 minutes of fury, but 1 minute in, and boom a bad blue line turnover and the Leafs lose.....

All in all, it was a great time at the ACC with a good friend, and we had a roller coaster ride way better than any crap ride at Canada's Wonderland. I want to see these guys play again this year, they don't quit, and its even more fun in person to see!

Monday, November 3, 2008

A weekend Roller Coaster Ride in Leaf Land

So the Toronto Maple Leafs had their first back to back weekend of the season with mixed results. They played 5 minutes of fury against the New York Rangers in what has to have been the loudest 5 regular season minutes out of the suites at ACC in recent non-playoff memory.

That 5-2 victory made up for all those 2-0 games last that ended up being 4-0 games, or even the 8-0 game which I happened to attend last season against Florida, where the clowns shut it down after being down 3-0 in the first.

Sunday was another see-saw battle which I didn't get to see, but once again, but the Leafs had trouble keeping their lead and lost despite an attempted comeback in the 3rd period.

One thing to take away from this.... They won't quit......

This team doesn't quit, and why do you ask don't they quit? Look at the Toronto Marlies last season in the playoffs. In 2 series which they won, they took the series to 7 games each time. Including a spectacular comeback against Syracuse coming back from a 3-1 deficit. Maybe they are worried about their place on the team, they know that every player can be replaced on this team, or they have faith in their teammates, not counting their enormous wealth and making jokes about their no-trade clauses in their 5 year contracts.

But once again Howard Berger seems to put his hate on for leafs nation. I have read his column a few times, and felt the writing was just not up to par for a newspaper, and when I read his blog calling Leaf fans stupid, I think Berger should really try to work on being professional and not condescending to leaf fans
. Remember, if it weren't for the Leaf fans, you probably wouldn't be one of those beat reporters for the leafs.... The Leafs blogosphere has once again responded with an open letter to Howard. I couldn't agree more.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Been too long since my last post

Anyways, I just happened to watch the Leafs pepper the Tampa Bay Lightning with shots. Overall a good effort, and in fact the Leafs lost to Lecavlier rather than to Tampa.

39 Shots, and simply out working the opposition is one way to win games, all they need is a goal scoring superstar to get them close to that 8th spot and into the playoffs. Or they can trade away their best players, and try and get Tavares to be that goal scoring superstar next year.

Reasons for my lack of sports blogging.

Politics and doing some courses unfortunately took over my life for most of 2007 and 2008, but I will have more time to write now. The quality of sports writing in general and the high quality and irreverence with which some sports blogs have been written has made me realize that this could be a lot more fun then complaining about Federal Politics.

The NHL has an exciting season, and we get to see which team will be the next one to go bankrupt due to the financial crisis, and how much the salary cap will down thanks to the financial crisis. Most of my hockey focus will be on the fortunes of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It will be an interesting season, as we are only 12 games in to see how they handle the pressure. The team is already playing better and working harder than last season, but can this last. Can Ron Wilson will them to a playoff spot, can he just make sure they get a mid level draft pick rather than a shot at the next one, John Tavares.

So for the near future Jamie on Sports is back, and will be as honest and irreverent as ever, without the sports journalism cliches.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Golden Brett is back and ready to talk!

Looks like Brett Hull is back in the hockey spotlight. He is now the intermission analyst for NBC's hockey coverage which starts this weekend. This is great news for hockey in the states, as it gives it some greatly needed publicity, and Brett's mouth is so loud and explosive it might bring us back to the sports section front page.

What I like about Bret is his crazy outspokenness which is great. He has commented on the past on things like gay marriage in Canada, Adolf Hitler and his similarities with Mike Keenan. He has also commented on refereeing many times, and has not been afraid to show the league exactly how he feels despite the consequences of his actions.

This is great, i only hope he doesn't get put on delay like Don Cherry.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Holding on for the ride......

Canada, won their 3rd straight world junior championship. Once again they defeated the arch-nemisis Russians, in what turned out to be a nail-biter.

Canada once again, did enough to win, it wasn't the overwhelming performance of Grand Forks, or Vancouver, but they came in waves, and they found a way to win. Their first period was dominant, and the Jonathan Toews goal was picture perfect on the power-play. The game was more about taking control of the play in critical intervals, and being able to harness their chances. After they got their lead the Canadians held on for the ride, and were able to play very disciplined in their penalty killing. The game was summed up by the 6 on 4 in the last minute where Canada's physicality kept the Russian players and the puck to the perimeter and they were unable to get any quality chances.

As usual Pierre Maguire adopted one of the Canadian defencemen as his favourite throughout the tournament. Its like a holiday tradition, in which every year Pierre will go on about how great said defenceman is, like a father going on about their son being ready to play in the national hockey league. This year it was Mark Staal, who Pierre went on a continuous tangent about how great Mark is going to be in the NHL. 2 years ago it was Dion Phaneuf, now its Mark Staal, can Pierre please focus on being a colour commentator, I'm sure these young men pay their agents to be their public relations officers.