UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Atone for Last Year, Beat Canisius 5-0

GRAND FORKS, ND– Even with Winter Storm Aubrey in the path, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks knew they had unsettled business from last season. That’s why, on Friday night, they donned their “business suits”– all black everything– to take on Canisius College, the team that helped keep UND out of the NCAA Tournament. Those feelings carried over from last season and helped the Hawks win their first game of the regular season in a convincing fashion, 5-0. 

“A couple weeks ago we talked about it, but the thing is they’re new jerseys,” said coach Brad Berry about the decision to wear the all-black. “They’re Adidas, a new brand. We always wear white at home, so early in the season we’d like to let the fans see the green or the black. Plus, you know, it’s a business mentality. We call them our business suits and we needed a business-like mentality tonight.”

“It was eye-opening,” mentioned Grant Mismash when he saw the black jerseys in the locker room pre-game. “Everyone had the same reaction and it sent a message to their team and our fans that we’re ready to go and we mean business.” 

The Fighting Hawks got out to a quick start, dictating the speed of the play. However, Canisius’ Matt Ladd was equal to the chances. It wasn’t until Jonny Tychonick’s point shot bounced around in front with Harrison Blaisdell getting a chance, but was left in the crease for Shane Pinto to bang home his first collegiate goal. UND kept the pressure on, but Ladd made some solid glove and toe saves to keep it at 1-0 after the first, despite UND leading in shots 14-3. 

Early in the second, UND got an extended power play after Canisius captain Matt Hoover got a five-minute major and game misconduct for contact to the head. However, even with sustained pressure for most of the power play, they came up empty thanks to the blocks in front and Ladd coming up with some timely saves. It wasn’t until under five minutes left in the second when a very broken play which saw Jackson Keane throw a shot at net, Jasper Weatherby taking a hack at it, until Dixon Bowen found the back of the net on a wide-open net to make it 2-0. 

It took less than five minutes in the third for UND to add more insurance, as Gabe Bast banked a shot off of Canisius’ Blake Wareham’s skate and made it 3-0. Grant Mismash, who was in a scary crash into the boards earlier in the game, picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and ripped one far-side on Ladd to make it 4-0. Only 53 seconds later, Bowen got his second of the night, as a shot from Jasper Weatherby pinballed to Bowen and squeaked under Ladd’s pads for a 5-0 lead. Ladd gave up the net for Jacob Barczewski. 

THEY SAID IT

“Huge. They’re a team that gets up and go. They stretch the zone and they play extremely hard and are up in your face all the time. You always wonder about the new guys in the line-up and see that level of play and I thought they did a good job. I thought our veterans did a good job of settling in and executing on what we needed to do.” — Brad Berry about the the need for a quick start against Canisius

“I think everyone in the room that we have a job to do in North Dakota. You come here and play in an institution like this, it’s the best one in the country. Guys come in here and say there’s more work to be done and this year everyone’s pulling the rope to get the job done.” — Jasper Weatherby on a more business mentality for the season. 

Dixon Bowen/Photo: Jen Conway

“It’s nice to get rewarded like that. I think our line did a good job battling puck and working low in the zone and getting pucks to the net. There’s a big emphasis to getting the puck to the house– the middle area. This year we’re trying to get everything into the house and we’ll get some luck with that.” — Dixon Bowen on his two-goal night and what UND needs to do offensively this year.

Clutch N’ Crab Weekend Preview 005: Women’s Edition

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN WOMEN (6-0-0) at MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS

Last Week: Only one game, but it was a dominating performance with the Women winning 9-0 over Air Force and outshooting them 75-15. The Women Mids have outscore their opponents 51-4 on the season. 

What To Look For: Can the dominance continue in East Lansing?? There’s really no sign of this team letting up and quite frankly– they shouldn’t either. With each game being more important than the last, the Women Mids will have to keep the pedal down if they want to get noticed on the national stage. 

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS WOMEN (1-1-0) vs. LOYOLA UNIVERSITY GREYHOUNDS and TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS 

Last Week: We welcome the Women Terps, who were all or nothing last week in a 20-0 lost to Rowan University, but a 12-0 win over George Washington. Alix MacKillop, Amanda Schweitzer, and Aya Gandolfo had two goals apiece in the win. 

What To Look For: We’ll see what happens after the crazy free-for-all weekend from last weekend and if it’ll carry over against two other Maryland teams. 

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS WOMEN (1-0-0) vs. MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY RED HAWKS and UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS

Last Week: Another newcomer to the list is the Towson women, who won their first game since the 2017-18 season by beating George Washington 12-5. Lily Warshaw led the way with a hat trick in the big win for the program. 

What To Look For: We’ll see if the good times keep rolling, as they’ll take on two teams who will have to go through Loyola first. Maybe someone could scout out that talent before the game. 

LOYOLA UNIVERSITY GREYHOUNDS (0-0-0) vs. MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY RED HAWKS and UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS

Last Week: It’s the first game of the season for the lady Greyhounds, as they’ll look to improve on their 11-win season last year out of their 16 games. 

What To Look For: It’ll be a fresh start for all over, though it’ll be interesting to see how they approach Maryland– who was an all-or-nothing team last weekend.

Clutch N’ Crab Weekend Preview 005: Men’s Edition

Editor’s Note: I’m taking out the “Bold Prediction” portion mostly because most of them never come true and it’s hard to look into the future when you have a full-time job and can’t study video tape to have an accurate representation.

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (4-4-0) vs. JOHNSTOWN TOMAHAWKS

Last Week-ish: They had a bye week last week, but it was only after the Black Bears swept the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights by a combined score of 12-5 with Jackson Sterrett leading the way with three goals and four assists.

What To Look For: It’ll be the return of the original Black Bear captain Quinn Warmuth, who is on the side of the rival Tomahawks. While the Tomahawks had the Black Bears’ number last year, the fire power of that team has moved onto college. With the Black Bears coming off a fresh weekend and gaining more confidence by the day, it won’t be so easy for those players from Western PA. We’ll also possibly see the newcomers of the team in Filip Jakobsson and Noah Kiemel.

TEAM MARYLAND (6-5-1) at SEAHAWKS HC and NEW HAMPSHIRE AVALANCHE

Last Week: Two series in less than a week saw TM split with New York Applecore and the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers. Connor Ball had four goals and an assist in those four games, while Tristan Mock added more to the offense with three goals and three assists. While Peter Siolas hasn’t been as hot, Armand Charland and Zach Richards have picked up the slack in net.

What To Look For: Going to West Chester, PA for another showcase weekend will be interesting to take in, especially with this being their fifth and sixth games within eight days. Odds are this team will be giving their all, but the travel and possible fatigue may catch up to them during these games.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D1 (2-3-1) vs. THE COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY LIONS and PENN STATE-BERKS NITTANY LIONS

Last Week: Two tough losses for the Middies against the Pitt Panthers last week, as they were downed in their home weekend. Josiah Tolvo had a goal and two assists on the weekend, with Nathan Hyden adding a goal and assist of his own to keep his offensive consistency alive and well. Navy had six different scorers on the weekend, as well.

What To Look For: Navy is facing two weaker opponents this week, as TCNJ is a D2 school and Penn State-Berks only has one win in three games, but this is a weekend to actually build up confidence going forward. To handle these teams easily would help set the tone ahead of them, while also seeing where they are at in case they falter to one of both of these teams.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS (0-6-0) vs. CLEARY UNIVERSITY COUGARS

Last Week: Another tough weekend for the Tigers, losing to Lehigh 2-0 and then traveling to George Mason and dropping a 3-1 decision there. While there isn’t definite stats for the Lehigh game, Towson did hold GMU to only 36 shots on Sunday– which is solid for a team with some defensive issues on the year.

What To Look For: Towson will be taking on Cleary University as the latter will be playing their first games in the history of the university. It will be quite the interesting match-up to see if this Tigers team, who has had some struggles, can upend this first-year club. It’ll take more offense and defense, as Ryan Dieter and Costa Pizanis have six of the team’s seven goals on the season.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS (2-0-0) at UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CAVALIERS and JAMES MADISON UNIVERSITY DUKES and VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES

Last Week: It was total domination by the Terps over Pitt with 17 goals in two games and back-to-back hat tricks from Liam Eden; who also potted two assists on the weekend. Not to be outdone, Chris Bouchard had nine points (3g, 6a) on the weekend– which showed that the rust from a month off didn’t show for the Terps.

What To Look For: A big travel weekend for the ACCHL Virginia Invitational but with their game being as well-rounded as it has been; it shouldn’t be much of an issue. Eden, Bouchard, and Evan Yamaguchi should be able to keep the offensive wheels turning against teams who have had struggles when it comes to scoring and keeping the puck out of the net, as well.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS (4-0-0) at RIDER UNIVERSITY BRONCS

Last Week: An off-weekend for the surprising Mustangs, who swept West Virginia the week previous. Brian Hodges had three goals in the series, with Brandon Scholze providing two goals and an assist. With those wins, the Mustangs are only two wins away from tying the franchise record for wins…albeit a young franchise at that.

What To Look For: It’ll be a battle of the undefeated teams with Rider holding a 4-0-0 record as well. This Stevenson team, however, has put in a lot of work to make this year better and with a full roster of talent on the full 200-feet, they’ll make quite the game out of it. Goaltender by committee has worked, but someone will need to break out and take the reigns sooner or later. Hodges and Mark Bowen have been great offensively and will need to continue that to help the Mustangs get even better.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D2 (2-2-0) vs. XAVIER UNIVERSITY MUSKETEERS

Last Week: The D2 Middies split the Commander-in-Chief Showcase last week in Annapolis, losing to Air Force 5-1, but beating Army in thrilling fashion 4-3. Though I didn’t see the Army game, Skippy Sheldon made 59 saves in the loss to Air Force, where he didn’t get much help offensively from his teammates.

What To Look For: With the undefeated Musketeers coming in, the D2 Middies will be in tough. They’ll need to make sure they play solid defensively, as to not have a repeat of the Air Force game, while also providing offensive support. Xavier has played better on the road, which will mean the Middies will need to be even more up for the game than usual.

ITPST: October 10th, 2019

IF THE PLAYOFFS STARTED TODAY….we’d all be confused because we’re only a week and a day into the regular season. HOWEVER, this what the playoffs would look like if the playoffs started….RIGHT NOW!!

The Atlantic would have the Sabres take the top spot with seven points on the year (3-0-1), with the ultimate match-up between the Bruins (3-0-0) and Maple Leafs (2-1-1) go at it for yet another chapter to their wonderful tale of playoff enjoyment. In the Metro, Carolina and their eight points (4-0-0) would take the top spot, while the Caps (2-0-2) would be second, with the Rangers (2-0-0) being third over the Flyers (2-0-0) thanks to goals-for. The Flyers, however, would get the Wild Card along with Detroit (2-1-0).

Thus, the East Playoffs would be Sabres and Flyers, Leafs and Bruins, Canes and Red Wings, and Caps and Rangers.

Out west in the Central, the Blues will get top spot in the divison (2-0-1) with the Avalanche (2-0-0) and Predators (2-1-0) going second and third. The Pacific would have Connor McDavid and the Oilers take the top spot, edging out the Ducks on goals-for since both are at 3-0-0. Vegas would continue their playoff streak with a third place showing in the Pacific (2-1-0). The Wild Card would be the Jets in the first spot (2-2-0) and the Flames (1-1-1) would hold the second part.

Meaning– the Oilers would take on the Flames in another Battle of Alberta, Avs and Preds, Blues and Jets, finishing up with the Ducks and Vegas.

There you have it– the first installment of ITPST and we’ll try to do this every Thursday until the end of the season.

Ever on the Cutting Edge, NHL on NBC to Start Podcasting

Look, I know what you’re thinking– you love Wednesday Night Hockey and their personalities, but it’s only on TV and streaming and it’s only a couple hours. Well, ladies and gentlemen– you’re in luck. NBC announced Tuesday that they’re going to be starting a podcast with their NHL on NBC personalities called “Our Line Starts.” You can even hear a preview of Keith Jones talking into a plastic cup.

I know, right?? Just want you wanted!!

Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick will host and they’ll have a typical interview and analyst situation that all castrated corporate podcasts have and all the people think it’s great because it’s got big names…

I’m just glad NBC finally got on the podcast train for hockey. I was worried that they’d wait a couple more years after the ship had been sailing off the coast. It’s amazing to me that in a world of independent and team-based podcasts that NBC things– yeah, this is what we need to get into now to get more ears on us and not rip us a new one for being a generic studio/broadcast.

Now, I could be a shill about this and say that a podcast I do should have more eyes and ears to it, but we’ve done it for 18 years and I hold out no hope for us to make it big– so fuck it, let’s run down the exclusive broadcaster of the NHL in the United States. Plus, I already called the NHL cowards and dared them to hire our show to show they weren’t cowards…so there’s that.

There’s so many hockey podcasts out there that are going to be better than listening to the NBC podcast, so just listen to them. I don’t need to tell you what they are because you’re already listening to them. The fact NBC is getting into this pool after it’s been almost drained shows that they’re so far disconnected from the social platform that this is going to be nothing more than a train-wreck that is popular because it’s coming from the NHL’s official broadcaster and will be listened to by people who are either too timid to listen to independent podcasts and like to yell into the void of social media thinking that their opinion is being hear by famous folks when they’re actually clout-chasing…or I could be wrong and the dynamic of Jones and Roenick could be good and it’s a boon for NBC; I’ve been wrong before. However, people dislike the NBC format on TV, I don’t know how many of them will be tuning into the podcast version.

My point is that the fact that this will have more downloads than other podcasts that are better and more informative is disheartening to me. It’s just a version of the “boys on the back of the bus” with some high profile guests sprinkled in to give a more laid-back vibe…or every other hockey podcast out there, but with bigger name guest. It’s a damn shame, too. NBC could have done something big with actually getting independents on to promote their wears, show their knowledge, and maybe grow the sport and podcasts the natural way…but that’s not NBC’s modus operandi.

And listen– as I “jokingly” said in the clip above– hire Face Off Hockey Show for multi-millions and we’ll sell-out faster than the Reel Big Fish song of the same name. Hell, NBC could have hired us to do this same thing while also promoting all their other shows and give Eddie Olczyk his own horse-betting segment. But we’re still for hire…

UND HOCKEY: Fighting Hawks Win Tune-up 5-1

Photo via @UNDMhockey

GRAND FORKS, ND– It was another long off-season for the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks hockey team, as they are coming off a second straight season of missing the NCAA tournament. They looked to put that all behind them, as they started off with an exhibition against the University of Manitoba. The Fighting Hawks sent the sell-out crowd of 11,760 home with a big 5-1 win in the tune-up for the regular season.

While they did dictate the offensive game in the start, Manitoba struck first after a broken passing play, as Colton Veloso picked up the puck in the slot off a deflected pass attempt by Sean Christensen and put it past Adam Scheel to make it 1-0 Bisons. Right after the goal, Mantioba went on to commit two penalties, putting the Fighting Hawks on the two-man-advantage.

Despite several chances and Gabe Bast ringing a shot off the crossbar, Jacob Bernard-Docker was able to beat Riley Lamb just as the first penalty was about to expire. A pass across from Grant Mismash in JBD’s wheelhouse allowed the sophomore d-man to get a nice wrister near-side on Lamb. UND didn’t let up in the first, as Gavin Hain tallied after a pass in traffic from Mismash and had it pinball all over past Lamb. UND was on the power play after that goal and Collin Adams found a rebound on the top of the crease and buried it past Lamb to make it 3-1 and giving Mismash his third assist of the night, only in the first period. 

As the second period started, redshirt freshman Harrison Feeney got some time in the net. After coming up midseason from the NAHL as an emergency back-up, Feeney could be seen as a competitor with Peter Thome for the back-up slot to Scheel. It took 14 minutes of game play for the Hawks to notch their fourth goal, as Hain tipped a shot from Mismash past Lamb. Jonny Tychonick made the play happen with a skate around the perimeter before dishing it off to Mismash. Feeney wasn’t all that tested, but was able to get out on a couple shots, while also stopping a penalty shot by Jonah Wasylak late in the frame. 

Thome got into play in the third, but unlike his predecessors; saw a little bit more action from the Bisons, but held the fort down for the Hawks. Shane Pinto got on the board five minutes into the third on the power play after a tip of a Matt Kierstad shot from the point, with Bernard-Docker getting a secondary assist on the play. 

“Obviously it was a good win and confidence boost for the whole team,” Mismash said after the game. Good start to the season, but it’s just exhibition and we got a lot of work and we’re looking forward to that Canisius series next weekend. It’s still pretty bitter from last season, but we got to play our game and see what happens.” 

“(The power play) was good. Both units were going well and our puck movement was good. We were making plays, making passes, the fundamentals were pretty good,” mentioned Mismash. 

Obviously, Mismash will be part of the power play being successful, but Hain played an equal role in that this game with two goals and getting to the open space. 

“I’m excited to make that jump into a bigger role on the team,” Hain commented about his role on the power play. “I want to be able to make a bigger impact on the team and help us win games. I’m looking forward to keep doing it.”

With Mismash, he’s now a junior and will be looked at as one of the leaders of the team going forward, something that the coaching staff talked to him about in the off-season.

“One of the things we talk about with Grant and Collin Adams is that you’re upperclassmen this year,” mentioned head coach Brad Berry. “You’ve been here a couple years and you know how we do things here and lead by example on the ice.” 

Despite all three goalies playing, coach did not tip his hand how the order would be going forward.

“You know what, don’t read anything into the order in which they played,” cautioned Berry. “We wanted to give everybody equal opportunity in net and I thought all three did a very good job with that. They didn’t have a lot of action, but they had a couple tough saves to make. It’s always tough to go in for one period and focusing for 20 minutes instead of 60.”

UND starts it for real next Friday, as they play Canisius, the team that swept them in Buffalo last year and was a main reason for the Hawks to not get an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.

Clutch N’ Crab Weekend Preview 004

TEAM MARYLAND (4-3-1) at NEW YORK APPLECORE

Last Week: Team Maryland came back from the Walpole Showcase splitting the weekend with a 7-4 win over the Railers Jr. Hockey Club, but lost to the Vermont Lumberjacks 3-1. It was the first time this year TM was away from the friendly confines of Piney Orchard.

What to Look For: In their first in-conference weekend set on the road, TM will be trying to keep some kind of hot offense going. Tristan Mock has joined the team and made a big impact last week with a hat trick against the Railers, while Jeff Rebmann and Denys Arkhypenko have been solid on with offensive contributions. This will be a good test on their team, as they are on the road again. They’ll be playing an Applecore team ripe for the picking (pun intended), as they’ve only scored 13 goals in six game, which should give the offense plenty of time to shine.

Bold Prediction: This has the hints of a sweep weekend with a weak Applecore team to start the season. The biggest thing is to not rest on the laurels of what they have done and play down to a level that could be presented to them.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN (2-1-1) vs. UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH

Two Weeks Ago: Navy went to Rochester and Erie to play RIT and Mercyhurst. While they dropped the first game against RIT 3-1, they beat Mercyhurst the next night by the same 3-1 scoreline. Nate Hyden has stepped out to be one of the early offensive contributors of this years’ team though we’re only four games in.

What to Look For: The first home games of the season are always a treat, which should help motivate the Middies against a Pitt team that was just over .500 last season. The biggest thing would be finding an offensive trend going their way, while also keeping their own house clean. Hyden has done well early on, but they’ll need more out of Derek Golembrosky, Conner Hyden, and Joe Kelly and have the upperclassmen show the youngsters the way.

Bold Prediction: Homecooking is good and I think it’s good enough for at least one win this weekend. However, Navy needs to play better on the opening games, as they’ve lost their first two opening series games. If they want to set the tone for the rest of the season, getting the first win of the weekend is going to be key for success down the road.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS (0-4-0) vs. LEHIGH UNIVERSITY, at GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY

Last Week: The Tigers had another tough weekend, losing both games to Rhode Island 5-1 on Friday and 7-3 on Saturday. Towson gave up 112 shots on the weekend after give up 98 shots in the two game set against West Virginia the previous weekend.

What to Look For: There’s going to be a lot of shots and if you like goaltending, these games may not be for the faint of heart. However, you can look at what Ryan Dieter has been doing with four goals and five points in four games and see some kind of hope offensively. That said, that’s where it stops as Collin Mercier and Costa Pizanis haven’t been able to get fired up out of the gate.

Bold Prediction: I can’t say they are going to keep shots under 40 a game because I don’t think it will be. At the same time, I have a better feeling about support coming for Jacob Snyder and Kevin Mackey this weekend than ever, especially against George Mason. This could be a surprising weekend for Towson and at least one win for the weekend.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS () vs. UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH

Last Month: The Terps played Georgetown, but even after almost a month, no scoresheet, no update online, nothing. The Terps social media game used to be so strong.

What to Look For: Hopefully some solid play from the Terps. My hope is also the Pitt teams bussed down together to cut costs for this trip to Maryland.

Bold Prediction: We’ll get some kind of update from this game, and it’s probably going to be from the Panthers.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D2 (1-1-0) vs. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, vs. ARMY

Last Week: One game on the weekend again, but it was a loss to Richmond with Sean Bowman getting the lone goal in the defeat.

What to Look For: It’s not only the first home games for the D2 Middies, but it’s also an academy weekend with both Air Force and Army coming into town. Obviously, these kind of rivalry games run deep, so the meaning of these games shouldn’t be overlooked by the teams on both sides of the puck.

Bold Prediction: Could be in tough, but I can see a sweep because of the rivalry games and because of the importance of these games for the Middies personally.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN WOMEN vs. ARMY

Last Week: Navy went to West Chester and ran the show with a 15-1 win on Saturday and an unconfirmed 16-0 win on Sunday. That’s 42 goals in four games for the women. That’s crazy.

What to Look For: Same as the D2 team, it’s an academy weekend and you can bet the Middies are looking for the scoring to continue against their biggest rivals in Army.

Bold Prediction: Goals will not be at a premium and I think that the Middies will take the week, stay undefeated, and stay scoring.

Quickly Thrown Together 2019-20 NHL Preview

You’ve seen the best– now it’s time for the rest. Let’s go:

THIRD TIME FOR FIRST TIME??: There’s 11 teams who haven’t won a Stanley Cup yet: Arizona, Buffalo, Columbus, Florida, Ottawa, Minnesota, Nashville, San Jose, Vancouver, Vegas, Winnipeg. Of those 11, you’d have to say that maybe four have a chance in Nashville, San Jose, Vegas, and Winnipeg; but the window is closing if it’s not already shut. Of course, they said that about the Caps two years back and they lifted the Stanley Cup.

HUNT FOR 50: Will Alex Ovechkin hit the 50-goal mark for the ninth time?? Odds are pretty good given he has four of the last five 50-goal season, including last year. And let’s be completely honest– Wayne Gretzky’s goal-record is out of reach for Ovechkin. Even as a Caps fan, it’s not something I think is attainable. However, tying the mark for most 50-goal campaigns in a career with Gretzky and Mike Bossy?? Much more than attainable.

YOUNG GUNS ON THE HUDSON: You could argue that with Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko; the Devils and Rangers could be the best rivalry coming back– akin to Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby pumping new life in to a Caps-Pens rivalry that was fading into obscurity. Two young talents, ready to take over the New York Market in a big way, which the media there will undoubtedly eat up, overanalyze, and do their best to be like Toronto sports media figures.

McPLAYOFFS: Depending on what you believe, there’s frustration with Connor McDavid and the Oilers not making it to the playoffs but once in his tenure there. It’s a tough pill to swallow when you have one of the best players in the league not being on the biggest stage for the biggest trophy every year. Will that help with Mike Smith and James Neal coming from Calgary while Milan Lucic went south on the QE2?? The Neal part may help a little, but I’m not a believer in the defense and goaltending for Edmonton one bit.

RETOOLING EARLIER DYNASTIES: Both the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks had less than desirable finishes, with both teams looking to retool heading into this season. With both playing in divisions that may be tougher than they look, it might be an uphill battle. I wouldn’t put too much money down on either of them making it too far if they do make the playoffs.

WORTH THE WAIT??: A lot of restricted free agents waiting until the 11th hour to sign, but is it something that their teams will be happy about or upset about should they not perform to the contract they were dealt?? Let’s be honest, I’m shocked Patrik Laine didn’t burn the bridges in the locker room already with what he said and it’s probably awkward as hell right now. The Mitch Marner deal looks like an overpayment when you look at other RFAs signing for a bit less than retail, but in the market space. That said, regardless of the price– Marner and Laine will be on the hot seat regardless of what their contracts were since they’re on teams that are supposed to be contenders.

SUNBELT RISING??: We all know what the Tampa Bay Lightning are– but do we really know what the Arizona Coyotes and Florida Panthers are outside of their team financials?? I would venture to guess that both teams are on the upswing, with Arizona getting Phil Kessel, Nick Schmaltz being healthy, and the possibility for solid defense. All the while, the Panthers have their goalie in Sergei Bobrovsky, young guns primed to really break out and put teams on notice, all while maybe trying to snatch a wild card spot away from others in the strong Atlantic Division.

NHL Going Retro with Green Day Pick-up

In a summer of bridge deals, the NHL signed one of their own– as they signed Green Day to a two-year deal with an AAV of three-chords. I used that joke on Twitter and it moderately killed.

I’m glad the NHL is bringing in the Broadway performers and producers into the fold and will be using a song of theirs for NBC Wednesday Night Hockey. And honestly– since Green Day missed out on the Wednesday Night Wrestling Wars that are starting up, the NHL is probably a nice medal for their collection. They can collect a paycheck for royalties and promote their apparently upcoming album.

Two great quotes from the press release were:

“Green Day is the perfect band for the NHL. Their music fits so perfectly with the energy, speed and power that we witness on the ice and each and every night. We are so excited to start this partnership with the NBC Sports open. It was so much fun to shoot and we think our fans will love it.” -NHL Chief Content Officer and Executive Vice President Steve Mayer.

“This NHL season is hereby known as LOUD season…where the toughest athletes to ever lace up a pair of skates meet the baddest rock band on the planet. So turn up the volume on your TV sets, fire, ready, aim and enjoy the ride.” -Green Day’s try-hard-to-connect PR staff

You know…forget about all the other bands who have closer ties to hockey– Green Day is the hottest act when the NHL was super popular: 1994. What better way to capitalize than right now?? Forget bands like PUP or Motionless in White or even the X Ambassadors for christ sakes– bands that were actually on the NHL20 by EA Sports soundtrack. The NHL needs Green Day….not bands that are on the scene now and actually have some popularity.

When all is said and done…it’s much better than the NASCAR on NBC’s annoying cover of “Runnin’ Down a Dream” by ZZ Ward that has been used for the past two seasons. It’ll bring some kind of energy to start and then soon wain in popularity. There’s some people who like Green Day still or remember how they liked them in high school and will be amped for this. That said, I don’t think there needs to be a band that is the opener for the event. It seems outdated and a little bit hokey to try and force synergy like this. Of course, that’s why I’m not the one making the decisions and just taking about them.