Snipe City is a weekly hockey column by 36 Crazyfists vocalist Brock Lindow and PUCKHCKY founder Matt Marini.
I took off on Saturday and traveled for three days and 1,900-plus miles to Minneapolis to start the tour tonight! I have always loved Minnesota; my dad is from Park Rapids and it’s very similar to Alaska in the hockey sense. I spent a week every summer from 7th to 11th grade at Minnesota Hockey School. It was the go-to camp for most of my Alaskan hockey-playing brethren, but not necessarily only for the clinic aspect of the trip. The highlight was the all-ages dance club you got to go on the Friday night of my stay. Oh the young memories of my mullet flowin’ in the wind, dancin’ to the hits of the late ’80’s early ’90s trying to get the babes to swoon with my awful dance moves.
Let’s drop the puck…
So much juice happening right now as the playoff race is in full effect. I’ll start with the latest of set backs with my beloved Philadelphia Flyers. We’re flying down the freeways watching the Flyers/Oilers game and it’s just getting into OT when the announcer mentions how Philly has the most losses this season after regulation play…. Boom!!! The Oilers bury it and the streak of suck continues. It happens to everyone if you’re a fan long enough, so I stay the course and hold my head high when I speak of my boys. Next year, Philly, next year.
Alright, so who is winning the cup this year? The Rangers are sick and I hate admitting it, but call a spade a spade; they are gonna be tough in a seven-game series. But the team that has the hottest ‘tender is who always wins. Boston will be dangerous with Rask in net; that is IF they make the playoffs. Here is the zeeee breakdown on how it’s all shapin up!!!
1) The Playoff Races are on fire!! OK, as Hamburglar mania keeps growing, the Ottawa Senators have continued an amazing stretch of games that has seen them reel off six straight wins. This of course has MAJOR implications on who makes the playoffs from the Eastern conference. As of today (3/23), the Sens are one point beyond the Boston Bruins, with two games in hand for the final “wild card” spot. In fact, the Sens can actually overtake the Bruins TONIGHT, as they play host to the San Jose Sharks at 7:30pm EST. We will most certainly be watching this game. Can the Hamburlgar aka Andrew Hammond keep his hot streak going? To bring you up to date on Hammond’s statistics, they read like this: 13-0-1. That’s zero regulation losses, still, with a 1.65 GAA, and a .947 Save Percentage. It would be a tremendous story if the Sens win tonight….and all the pressure would then shift to the Bruins whos’ fan-base would not too thrilled with a playoff-less spring!!
BONUS: Lets NOT forget about the Florida Panthers in this race, as well. Although the Cats currently sit three and four points behind Ottawa and Boston respectively, they do have one game in hand on the Bruins so anything can still happen. With a tough game Tuesday against in-state rival Tampa Bay, then a trip into Toronto for a game Thursday, if the Cats can win these two games things are going to become VERY interesting in the East.
In the Western conference it looks like the L.A. Kings and Calgary Flames are going to battle it out along with the Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets for the 7 and 8th playoff spots. As of today, these four teams have the best chance(s) of earning one of the playoff spots, while the Colorado Avalanche, San Jose Sharks, and Dallas Stars have a very outside chance of earning a spot. In an interesting move, the Kings have recalled Mike Richards from the AHL to provide (what they hope) will be a veteran presence and some offensive spark. Gotta love the hard-workin’ Flames for STILL playing super hard every night despite losing their top defenseman (Mark Giordano) to a season ending injury. If nothing else, the Flames will ALWAYS work and work and work and work and….you get the idea. Although its very difficult to think the Kings may not make the playoffs, we think it would be fun to see both Winnipeg and Calgary make it this year…I’m sure the NHL would think much differently though (think ratings folks) and would hate to not have the Kings in the running for yet another Stanley Cup. We shall see. Things are getting fun now!!
2) More scoring in the NHL? Another hot topic issue that was discussed at the GM meetings last week was whether or not rules should be adjusted in order to promote more scoring in the NHL. The two main items that were looked at were: A) The size of goaltenders equipment and does it need to be altered? B) The height of the actual goal being raised an inch or two? While both of these options have its merit, I’m not sure either will get the seal of approval from the GMs. Another very interesting topic was the handling of OT; more specifically, the shoot-out. It appears that the shoot-out—or the “skills competition,” as some refer to it—has finally run its course with the fans. We here at PUCK HCKY have always thought the shoot-out was a bad idea, just for the potential for injury, and added wear and tear on the goalies. So whats the solution? It appears that the current five-minute OT played at four-on-four will be adjusted to incorporate some crazy three-on-three action! While the NHLPA and the league still need to hash this idea out, it seems that the OT period may be extended to seven minutes, with four of those being played at four-on-four, then the remaining three minutes played at three-on-three. The goal of all this is to end games prior to needing a shoot-out. What do you think the NHL should do to increase scoring?
3) NCAA Frozen Four Tourney! The 16 NCAA teams have been chose, and now it’s ON! You may find the bracket here: (www.uscho.com/ncaa/mens-division-i-ncaa-tournament/) fill it out! It should be noted that out of the 16 teams that received bids, four of them are from Minnesota. It’s well known that Minnesota is the “State of Hockey” and this sure seems to justify that. If you know nothing about the State of Minnesota and hockey, you owe it to yourself to investigate it. A very rich history is what you will find with all levels of competition and both men and women players represented!. We attended the Let’s Play Hockey Expo in Minneapolis in 2014 and we witnessed the passion for hockey in real life. It truly is like being in South Canada! Keep a special eye on Harvard in the tourney. Why? Jimmy Vesey is why. This guy is property of the Nashville Predators and he has “only” scored 31 goals in 36 games this year… so far. The Crimson won the ECAC championship this past weekend, and Vesey is on fire so keep a look-out. The GM for the Predators has already stated that Vesey is “NHL ready,” so once the NCAA season ends for Vesey he will have a serious choice to make. Either leave school and join the Preds, or stay one more year and get a Harvard education!!! What a decision to have to make.
Matt Marini from PUCK HCKY Weekly Top 5 Power Ranking:
1) New York Rangers: Wow. Very impressive Rangers!!! After watching them destroy the Ducks last night, I cant imagine how good the Rangers are going to be once Henrik Lundquist returns from injury. Gotta give some serious stick-taps to Cam Talbot, who has filled in more than admirably in King Henrik’s absence. Interesting note: Does anyone know what NCAA program Cam Talbot comes from???
2) Anaheim Ducks: OK. OK. Even though the Ducks gave up seven goals to the Rangers last night, this team is still a legitimate threat to emerge from the West and play for the Cup. It seems the goaltending of Freddie Andersen and John Gibson is either going to make or break Anaheim in the playoffs. It will be interesting to see who gets the initial starting nod, and if he can run with the chance.
3) St. Louis Blues: Not much to dislike here. This team is loaded from back to front, and has a good leader in Backes. Obviously, Tarasenko is a goal-scoring threat each and every time he steps on the ice. Lookin’ at you Elliot and Allen.
4) Montreal Canadiens: They dipped a little, but now have won three in a row. Carey Price has nine shutouts now??? That’s crazy. I think the big worry in Montreal is scoring consistency, as always. For years, Montreal has utilized a group of undersized forwards, but not anymore!! This team should be better suited for a long playoff run.
5) Tampa Bay Lightning: Another team that is loaded!! They’ve had a couple injuries lately, but guys are returning to the line-up and making a difference (Ondrej Palat). So the fight of the week goes to the Captain of the Bolts, Steven Stamkos who dropped the gloves with Uber-pest Brad Marchand of the Bruins on Sunday! Not only did Stamkos clearly have enough of Marchand’s “special” brand of hockey tactics, he actually did something about it. This instantly fired up the team and had a major part in the Bolts huge (for the Senators!!) win over Boston. This team will be tough come playoff time!!
It’s our favorite time of the year and Matt and I are just getting started with the collab on Snipe City, and Matt knows his shit. Head over to www.36crazyfists.net and get up on our tour dates and come talk some puck with me. Have a kickass week friends and as always.
Keep your head up,
Brock & Matt