BY JESSICA WILLIAMS, Couchsideshow.com contributor
Like I posted in my first blog, the Frozen Four is an equivalent to the Final Four in basketball except with hockey.
The four College teams competing in 2013 were the Yale Bulldogs, Quinnipiac Bobcats, St. Cloud State, and UMass Lowell. All four teams fought their way up to the tournament they all have dreamed of winning. The first semi-final game was UMass Lowell against the Yale Bulldogs. Throughout the beginning of the tournament, it was said that Yale was the “underdog,” and that their chances of going past the first round was slim.
Yet they defeated UMass, who was #3 seed, with a score of 3-2, winning in OT with the final goal scored by their Senior Captain, Andrew Miller. Leaving a stunned UMass Lowell crowd silent, the Bulldogs celebrated their first win, as they were now moving on to the championship round. The next game of the night was to be played by the Quinnipiac Bobcats and St. Cloud State. Quinnipiac had been the #1 seed team this season, so they definitely had quite the “rowdy” fan section.
BY JESSICA WILLIAMS,Couchsideshow.com contributor
At the moment, I am laying in a hotel bed, in a city I’ve never been in before, researching College hockey teams.
Some people might think this is odd, but it is no different than a basketball fan looking up College basketball teams for the Final Four. Though many folks don’t know this, there is a hockey equivalent to the Final Four; it is known as the Frozen Four. The location of the Frozen Four is different every year, with different teams, and different fans attending the games. This year the tournament is held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I’ve begun to wonder if these people rooting for specific teams are actually fans, or just band-wagoners.
I say this because when you ask these people who they are rooting for, 80% of the time it is the #1 seed team in the tournament. If that just so happens to be their favorite team, then so be it, but usually the difference between a real fan and a bandwagon fan is easily recognizable. For instance, a real fan might know people on the team, or have all the fan attire supporting the team. If you ask one of these fans a question about their team, be prepared to have a conversation longer than an elevator ride.
On the other hand, bandwagon
fans might give you very short, to the point answers about their “favorite team”. Lesson being, when going to a sports tournament of any kind, make sure you do your research on the teams so you don’t get caught as the bandwagon fan.
May 5, 2009 and November 27, 2012. Two separate dates that in the 3 years, 6 months and 23 days in between spawned years of turmoil, uncertainty, cheap shots, internet arguments, and countless other immature, childish and un-endearing incidents.
I’m of course talking about the Phoenix Coyotes and their recent struggles off the ice. The two dates are very closely related. The May 5 date is when then-team owner Jerry Moyes plunged the financially-troubled franchise into bankruptcy and created a maelstrom of everything listed above. Fast forward to the November 27 date and the dust has now appeared to settle after the City of Glendale approved a 20-year lease agreement with prospective, and likely, owner Greg Jamison, hopefully ending years of unpredictability.
Its amazing that it took just over three-and-a-half years for a professional sports team to finally be on the brink (and not yet) sold, but the situation with the Coyotes was not exactly what one would call normal. First off, Arizona, mainly the Phoenix-Metro is not exactly a hockey hotbed due to the desert climate. Secondly, the NHL were caught up in numerous legal battles with Moyes, previous Blackberry CEO Jim Balsillie (who wanted to move the team to Canada way back in 2009), the hacks at the Goldwater Institute (a watchdog group with an interest to protect taxpayers, but yet weren’t elected…). Third, potential deals with sports mogul Jerry Reinsdorf (owner of Chicago’s Bulls and White Sox), the Ice Edge Holdings group (still a laughingstock on numerous message boards) and Matthew Hulsizer (who actually had an agreement ready to go, but was summarily blocked by the aforementioned Institute) collapsed faster than the WWE SmackDown ring when Brock Lesnar superplexed Big Show in 2002 (see below).
Looking back on my first round NHL predictions, I got five out of the eight series correct in terms of the teams advancing (the Predators, Coyotes, Blues, Rangers and Devils). Out of those predictions, I only hit one on the head (Blues in 5) while I was barely off on the other four except maybe the Rangers, who I had winning in five but needed seven games. I was completely wrong on the Kings/Canucks, Flyers/Penguins and Capitals/Bruins.
But now looking at the second round match-ups, I can honestly say that I am still pleased with the outcomes. Not necessarily because of the games that will be provided, but because looking at the remaining teams gives me great joy because it upsets the established order that has come to define professional hockey in recent years. There are no Red Wings, no Blackhawks, no Penguins, no Bruins and no Canucks. Instead, viewers will get a nice, heavy dose of what people are not used to seeing, for the most part.
BY IAN PALMER, Feedcrossing.com contributor
The Edmonton Oilers haven’t lived up to expectations on the ice the past few NHL seasons even though they’ve had the first overall draft pick the last two years. The Oilers will now get a chance to improve their team once again this summer as they will once again draft first overall due to winning the NHL’s draft lottery on Apr. 10.
The Columbus Blue Jackets finished the current regular season in 30th and last place in the league and had a 48 per cent chance to hang onto the number one pick overall. However, the oilers, who finished in 29th place, had an 18.8 per cent chance at winning the lottery and hit the jackpot with it. Oilers’ general manager Steve Tambellini was obviously happy with his team’s stroke of luck and will be able to add another excellent top prospect to his roster or trade the pick for an established NHL player or two.
The Oilers already have some of the best players in the league, such as Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins thanks to the last two drafts as well as youngsters Sam Gagner and Jordan Eberle. Tambellini said if you’re in the draft lottery and have to travel to Toronto you might as well win it. He added that the franchise and its fans are really excited about the outcome and the chance of adding another young star to the squad.
A couple of days ago, you witnessed the unveiling of my first round preview for the Western Conference playoffs. Now you have the grand opportunity to indulge in my Eastern Conference preview. Enjoy.
(1) New York Rangers vs. (8) Ottawa Senators
The Rangers have looked like one of the NHL’s elite teams all season, and who could blame them? They have outstanding goaltending in Henrik Lundqvist, offensive firepower in Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan and a consistent blue line presence with Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. They are a solid team all around and have the “New York” aura around them.
The Senators, after missing the playoffs last year, are back and looking to play spoiler. Led by the always dangerous duo of Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa will always look to their mainstays to guide the team. Defensively, Erik Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar hold down the fort while goalie Craig Anderson has had a decent season in net (2.84 GAA, .913 save percentage).
In order for the Senators to at least stay competitive, they will need superb play from Anderson and have a point-per-game pace from their gunners, Alfredsson and Spezza, along with Milan Michalek. And that is just not happening. The Rangers are too good on all three fronts and should pepper Anderson with enough shots from all angles to make his head spin.
Rangers in 5
BY JOHN SCOTT, Couchsideshow.com contributor
Although there was some interesting trades brought about in the NHL over the last week, this year’s trade deadline seemed to disappoint me. A lot of teams swapped players and draft picks in the last hours of the deadline for the betterment of their team, but few trades held star players.
Three out of 30 teams decided not to partake in the trade deadline frenzy, and two of those teams could furthermore enhance their teams by making some trades. The Calgary Flames decided not to keep their roster as is, which is a bold move for a team trying to grab a playoff spot. However, the Carolina Hurricanes chose not to trade anyone for some strange reason even though their dead last in their division, and fourth to last in the league. I don’t know what their GM is thinking at this point. I mean, you’re going 23-26-13 and you’re not trying to make that better? We’ll see if that pays off later on in the future.
BY JOHN SCOTT, Couchsideshow.com contributor
It is tough to find the words to describe how poorly the Washington Capitals are performing. Embarrassing, is one. Terrible, could be another. This year they have 29 wins, 26 losses and 5 overtime losses and are currently in third place in their division, 20th in the league. How can you go from a semi-final dominant team to this?
The Caps should be a powerhouse in the National Hockey League. With players like Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, Mike Knuble, Karl Alzner and John Carlson, they should beat teams left and right. But they’re not. In their past 15 games, they’ve won four times. They even lost to the Carolina Hurricanes 5-0 on Feb. 20. This isn’t Squirt hockey; the Capitals should be putting at least one goal on the board against a team like that.