Blog Archives

Instigator Podcast #20: Locked Out (Oct 5, 2012)

Sure the lockout is well underway, but we’re still recording whether they’re playing or not. Chris Ostrander of Two In the Box and yours truly have another edition of the “Instigator” for you.

Chris and I work out the issues with the lockout into an easily comprehensible concept, we play some Gaslight Anthem (shocker) and talk about the new Alumni Plaza at First Niagara Center. Plus, some Plus/Minus!

Got suggestions for next podcast? Wanna follow us? Leave us a note here or on twitter, @3rdManIn or @2ITB_Buffalo.

Locking myself out

As you’ve noticed (or judging by the hits on this site, you haven’t) there really hasn’t been much to read in this space this summer. A couple podcasts, some brief reactions, but nothing special. If you actually enjoy reading this site, I figure that would be disappointing to you. I get that.

Unlike during the season, there has been no drive, no sense of obligation to fill this space. Usually, that’s the main motivating factor for me even opening up WordPress, because if I’ve got a nugget of information or opinion that doesn’t merit elaboration, I’m just gonna tweet it. But the internal discussions I have with myself have collected to the point where I find myself here and writing.

It’s honestly been a mentally draining experience being a hockey fan this summer. Whether it’s been the constant anticipation of trades, signings, reaction over the lack thereof, the bombardment of statistics we face now, off-ice drama… the list goes on and it’s a lot to handle if you stay on Twitter regularly. And you do. We want to, because that moment something happens, we need to be there. We need to know. We want to know. We have to know. And we have to analyze it, ad nauseum. That’s just the way it is.

But lingering amongst all this is uncertainty. We’re mere weeks away from potentially seeing the league lockout the players. It sucks that it’s at this point, but the moment the NHLPA announced that Donald Fehr was coming in, we all collectively said “Fuck, there’s gonna be another lockout, right?”

And here we are.

I’m not going to sit here and wax poetic about how the owners and/or players are greedy, that they make enough money, that the fans deserve better, etc. That bullshit is for “I’ll hang up and listen” people who still use ham radios and don’t understand the business. The league business model needs to be readjusted. I accept that. We all should. We can all benefit from a better system, where teams can compete equally, the league is financially stable to the point in can invest in the future of the game and the players are fairly compensated for their services.

Is that system unfathomable? No. Is it going to be easy to find that middle ground for the NHL and the PA in time to make this seamless? Absolutely not. But they’re going to work at it until they get to a spot they’re comfortable with because neither side is going to be willing to pass the point of no return. They know what happened last time.

And so do I. Read the rest of this entry

Instigator Podcast #9: Southern Aggression

Not even snow in late April could stop the ninth version of “The Instigator Podcast” featuring Chris Ostrander of Two In the Box and myself.

This week we discuss the NHL playoffs, first round surprises, how fun it is to watch Vancouver lose, southern market success and another game of Plus/Minus.

Comments, suggestions and good drink recipes can be directed to us. Let us know below or on twitter, @3rdManIn or @2ITB_Buffalo.

NHL Realignment: Planning for now and later

Possibly the biggest burning issue in the NHL, other than concussions, taking advantage of the NBA lockout, avoiding a lockout of their own next year, players getting attention for their Halloween costumes and whether Sidney Crosby will ever play again, is realignment.

The abduction of the Atlanta Thrashers to balmy Winnipeg threw a wrench in the league’s alignment. With the Thrashers franchise, or Jets as they are referred to now, still in the Southeast Division, something needs to change.

And it will.

The NHL’s Board of Governors will meet this winter and figure it all out. The funny part is, it’s already figured out. There’s a great way to do this, and I’ve got it all figured out.

Some teams will be really happy about this proposal, such as:

  • Columbus. The franchise is getting close to the ICU due to horrible play on the ice. No one wants to pay to see a loser, and that’s all the Blue Jackets have been for over a decade. They play too many games out west and not enough in primetime to gain a television audience or attention. Getting them east will improve the franchise’s future.
  • Dallas. Finally, a majority of games inside their own time zone, as they move to a group closer to the mid-west.

Teams that will probably be pissed at this include:

  • Detroit. They claim they were promised dibs on moving back East the first chance they got. Well, they’re gonna have to suck it up, because there’s already too many teams further east than they are. Thinking they would get to move East and Columbus wouldn’t is delusional. They complain about too many games against western teams at late hours, in this scenario, the number of those games is extremely limited. The concept they’d leave Chicago as the only Original Six team in the West is selfish on their part.
  • Nashville. They’d like to go east to try to get more early games and limit travel. They’ll be fine where they are.
  • Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. You boys are going to have to split up.
  • Winnipeg. Stranded from the rest of the western Canadian teams. They may complain about that, but they don’t have to worry about selling tickets because they’re a true hockey market, right?

So without further adieu, here is how you split up the teams, and how it’ll all work:

Read the rest of this entry

Zdeno Chara and the NHL’s big problem

I’m sure you’re sick of it already, the whole Zdeno Chara/Max Pacioretty thing. I’m getting there too. You’ve heard just about everyone’s opinion on it.

In today’s age of technology, reaction is almost instantaneous. When the ruling came out yesterday, I decided it’d be better to wait out the storm and sleep on it. I’m trying to be as objective as possible here, despite the fact that the ruling has a direct impact on tonight’s game between the Sabres and Bruins.

Steve Montador, a former teammate of Chara, was on WGR yesterday and talked about the hit. Montador said that Chara knew where he was on the ice. That’s incredibly damning, having a player who’s familiar with Chara suggest that he knew what he was doing.

Many of the arguments against supplemental discipline on the play were that it was a “hockey play” and Chara wouldn’t have known that the partition was there. Gary Green of On the Fly on NHL Network even suggested that Montador even had “ulterior motives” in those comments. Seriously?

Some players, speaking anonymously, think it wasn’t an unfortunate accident, as well. Pacioretty agrees. In an interview with TSN’s Bob McKenzie, he says there was intent.

“I heard (Chara) said he didn’t mean to do it. I felt he did mean to do it. I would feel better if he said he made a mistake and that he was sorry for doing that, I could forgive that, but I guess he’s talking about how I jumped up or something.”

“I believe he was trying to guide my head into the turnbuckle. We all know where the turnbuckle is. It wasn’t a head shot like a lot of head shots we see but I do feel he targeted my head into the turnbuckle.”

Looking at the still photo of impact, it would seem to support that claim. Chara’s hand is rubbing Pacioretty’s head right into the boards. Whether or not the partition gets him, Chara is obviously targeting his head. Read the rest of this entry

Cheated, Not Defeated: Nine Years Later

Hello, children. Do you know what today is?

If you’re a Sabres fan, this date should be etched in the depths of your emotionally tortured heart.

June 19.

It’s been nine years.

NO GOAL

“I believe everybody will remember this as the Stanley Cup that was never won in 1999.”
— Joe Juneau, Buffalo Sabres

Nine years later, and it’s still bullshit.

Yes, fans, nine years ago tonight was the sixth game of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals. It’s been nine years since the Sabres got hosed out of their chance at a Stanley Cup. Nine years since the Sabres were as close as they have ever been to being champions. Nine years since the worst officiating/public relations job in professional sports history. Read the rest of this entry

Detroit wins. Welcome to the offseason.

Congrats to Swedish legend Andreas Lilja and your 2008 Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings.

Although it would’ve been nice to see it go 7 games, it was a hell of a series.

Props to Detroit for playing a system that completely sucks the life out of their opposition. With all the firepower Pittsburgh had, there were times when they could not generate anything. If I’ll be the one to say it, I’ll say it: It was boring as hell to watch.

Maybe I’m spoiled, getting to watch the Sabres play every night, but the Red Wings reminded me why I loved the rule changes. Obstruction everywhere, shut down defense… just boring-ass defensive hockey.

And amazingly, the ratings were phenomenal. Props to the NHL for pulling that off.

But now is the sad part, no chances to see action on the ice until September.

Read the rest of this entry

Holy crap. Marc-Andre Fleury: Half-man, half-god

Marc-Andre FleuryThat goalie for the Penguins is really good.

For those who missed last night’s Game 5, you missed one of the best goaltending performances I’ve ever seen. Marc-Andre Fleury was standing on his face all night, on his way to leading the Penguins to a 4-3 win in triple overtime on the strength of 55 saves, many of them simply spectacular.

Fleury’s toe save on a Red Wings odd-man rush could be one of the greatest saves in the history of hockey, considering the magnitude of the game. With Detroit outshooting Pittsburgh 58-32, it was Fleury who held the Penguins in the game long enough to be in a position to win it.

All in all, it was one of the best Final games the NHL has seen in many years. Read the rest of this entry

Canucks defenseman Luc Bourdon dead at 21

Luc BourdonI was sitting around watching tv this afternoon when I flipped over to the NHL Network (BTW, thank you, television gods for that channel). They were replaying last night’s Game 3, and as soon as I looked down at the ticker along the bottom, I felt my heart sink a little when I read that Luc Bourdon was dead.

First off, condolences to the Bourdon family, Canucks organization, and all Canucks fans.

Bourdon was a very promising young player. Selected 10th overall in 2005 by Vancouver, Luc was always one of the top prospects in hockey. The Hockey News in their 2007 Future Watch issue had him ranked as the 9th best prospect in the league. He was a franchise defenseman in the making.

Now, at the age of 21, his life is over. Read the rest of this entry

If Sidney Crosby is the savior, Chris Osgood is the anti-christ.

Well, for being supposedly a tough match-up for both teams, Pittsburgh apparently doesn’t know that they need to score goals to win.

And they haven’t won, and they haven’t scored.

Chris Osgood has been lights-out for the Wings. While Detroit’s defense has limited most of the opportunities, Osgood has made the saves he needed to in the first two games. Hard to say he isn’t the star of the series, and potential Conn Smythe winner, when he hasn’t allowed a goal yet.

The only thing worse than the Pens’ shooting percentage is Detroit’s diving. They are probably the most talented team in the league, but they must feel the need to sell every fringe call because it’s obvious they’re embellishing. Johan Franzen flopping around in Game 2 after the hit from Roberts was a great example. Yeah, it probably did deserve two minutes, but he tried selling it like he was seriously hurt.

Pittsburgh’s running out of chances to get back in this series. Odds are, if they don’t score the first goal in Game 3, the series will be over before it can even go back to Detroit. It’s going to be one huge momentum swing. Pittsburgh’s been unbeaten in Pittsburgh since the regular season. Now, down 2-0, if that bench or that crowd gets any doubt in their heads, they’re already beaten.

Should be an interesting Game 3.

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