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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Downward Spiral...kind of

Lidstrom trys to give Sid a little "how's your father"

Not much to say about the Pens lose to Detroit at the Joe last night.  For the majority of the game, the Pens seemed to be playing sloppy, uninspired hockey.  For a minute there I thought I was watching the Bruins.  But I digress.  There was no shortage of the "Crosby Sucks" last night either.  Each and every time he touched the puck or even came near it, off they want.  I thought they had moved the game to Philadelphia and traded the Joe for food stamps there for a minute.  Flower played great, despite letting two softies float by.  If they are going to move me in this playoff run, he is going to have to be stellar.

Bottom line...did we lose to our Western Conference rival Detroit?  Yes.  Was it detrimental to our winning the Atlantic Division?  Maybe.  Was it the nail in the coffin for a playoff berth?  No way, Jose.  That's not to say the game wasn't important.  This wasn't like a preseason tryout game or an early season positional game.  This was a playoff like atmosphere.  The two points for a win would have definitely helped push for the #2 spot in the East.  Jersey now has two games up on the Pens and is only 2 points back.  At this point, we are really playing for home ice advantage through the Conference finals. 

For Detroit, this was a playoff game.  The Wings were two points ahead of Calgary, who has a game up on Detroit, for the 8th and final spot in the West.  They are in Full Metal Playoff mode, ie. bumping and grinding and sticking to you like fly paper in their "non-penalty" inducing interference kind of way.  I'm not saying there were bad calls, more like bad non-calls.  I haven't seen that much obstruction since I saw a fat guy get stuck in a subway turn style.  I'm not complaining though (CHEATERS!!!).  That is playoff style hockey.  They had the intensity and we didn't.  Fair enough.  Now STOP IT!

The Great Ape in all his fashionable glory

We get the Caps on Wednesday and I have a feeling this is going to be a statement game for Washington.  They are the team of destiny if you read Washington media.  They are built to win and to win now.  This would be icing on the Presidential Trophy season cake if they can go in at the end and wipe the ice with the Champs.  We are probably going to be without Malkin again so it is going to be no easy task.  Either way, I think we are in for a great game.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Congrats to Selanne

I know this is old news for many of you but congratulations are in order for the Finnish Flash who scored his 600th career goal last night against the Colorado Avalanche.  He joins 17 other NHL'ers that have accomplished this feat.  He is also only the third European born player to get there, along with Jari Kurri and Jaromir Jagr. 

It was a fun goal to watch because after it happened, the entire Ducks bench lept to the ice and mobbed Teemu behind the net for a celebration.  It was great to see and I am glad the league allowed for this event to take place.  Prior arrangements had to be made by the Ducks organization to get permission to stop the game so that a celebration could occur. 

For any non-hockey fans out there, Teemu Selanne was drafted 10th overall by the Winnipeg Jets (who are now the Phoenix Coyotes, who might soon be back in Winnipeg for all we know) back in 1988.  He scored 76 goals in his rookie season and went on to win the Calder trophy.  Only Selanne, and HOFers Mario Lemieux and Luc Robitaille have won the Calder and scored 600 goals. 

Perhaps the best time of his career was when he was paired with Paul Kariya on the Ducks.  Even Selanne has said that, "Numbers-wise, I had my best years here with Paul and we helped each other so much. Not very often can you find the same chemistry that we had. It was amazing, and they were great memories.”  That they were.

The first day of Hate Week

Today is the first day of Hate Week in Pittsburgh.  What is hate week you ask?  Well for any hockey fan, it's the week where we play all the hated rival teams in the course of 7 days. 

First up is the team everyone loves to hate, the Detroit Red Wings.  This is sort of a new rivalry since we sort of created it by being the best two teams in the league for the last two years.  Each of the regular season matchups between us has also been highly competitive and fun to watch.  The Wings are fighting for the playoff lives and are coming off a weekend where they won in overtime against their rivals Vancouver.  The Pens are trying to keep their division lead intact and make a momentum push into the playoffs.  Now is about time we should hit our stride.  Unfortunately, we are going up against who I think is front runner for rookie of the year in Jimmy Howard.  He has played awesome for the Wings, putting up a 2.32 GAA and a .924 SV%.  Here's some stuff for ya...

Yes, that's Penguins coach Dan Bylsma fighting with former Wing Brendan Shanahan.

On Wednesday, the feature game that they have been hyping up for two weeks on the NHL Network is the Pens against the Evil Capitals. I have grown to despise the Caps on a regular basis, although I forget that I don't like them sometimes because, to be honest, they are a fun team to watch. The two biggest stars of the NHL will be on the ice with Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. I actually get tired of all the comparisons these two get. They are both amazing players to watch. Ovie has tons of individual awards to his credit but Crosby has the Cup. That's all that matters here. The Caps are arguably the best team in the NHL and are hoping for hardware at the end. With this being their last meeting of the regular season, chances are they will meet again in the playoffs.

Finally, on Saturday, the Pens face cross-state douche bag dous-jour's, the Flyers. I love to hate me some Flyers. Regardless of how they perform or play, they are always viewed in my mind as a bunch of goons. Their team is made up of a bunch of faces on America's Most Wanted. Carcillo, Pronger, Hartnell, Giroux, Laperriere...the list goes on and on. Nothing would make me happier than a win here...except maybe 3 wins.

The Pens magic number is 6!! If they win tonight, that would be down to 3 and if the Thrashers win on Tuesday, it would be down to 1. Barring global innihilation, I think we got this.

Go Pens!!

The Spoils of War - Card Show Review

It was a battle on Saturday at the 40th Annual Sports Collectibles Convention at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL.  Anytime you gear up for a card show it is like packing your bags for a long battle in the trenches.  I was armed with my Pittsburgh Steelers backpack filled with various lists, top loaders, and boxes so that I could hold my spoils.  After a quick breakfast and a shower, I headed out.  Here is my take on the show.

First, there were tons, and I mean tons, of autograph opportunities.  I think I listed many of the autograph guests in my last post.  The only problem I had with it is the fact that many of them were charging well over $50 for a single item.  Don't get me wrong, there were quite a few signors that were under $20, but $60 for Chris Johnson?  $90 for Derrick Rose?  $250 for Emmitt Smith?  If you wanted them to personalize it or sign something other than their name, it cost extra.  Not to mention the photo op session that they charged for before hand.  Where does all this money go to?  Once the event gets paid for, and then the promoter, and then the autograph sponsor, how much does the athlete get?

Second, with the popularity of Ebay,, Sportslots, and a plethora of other sportscard marketplaces, it still amazes me that "book value" is clung to like Linus to his blanket.  There were so many people walking around with a Beckett in hand.  It was almost comical.  I lost count of the number of dealers that relied on the perceived "book value" for pricing their cards.  If not for charging the exact price that is listed in Beckett, the majority of them at least posted the prices on the card so the casual observer would feel like they were getting a deal.  The worst instance was in the buying category, though.  I listened to countless numbers of collectors talking with dealers about buying.  Many of the dealers claimed they were buying and even had signs posted but I really didn't see much going on.  The only deals I saw take place were for vintage, condition sensitive baseball cards and some memorabilia.  In these cases, most collectors wound up taking a bath for the sake of walking away with something in their hands. 

Third, what recession?  I didn't arrive there until after 11:00 AM due to heavy amounts of traffic driving around downtown Chicago.  That coupled with the fact that it was blizzard like conditions.  I can't understand how it was in the 60s three days this week and then it snows...but that's another story.  The convention center was packed with people.  Considering the parking for the center was $13 and the admission was $10, this was not a cheap show.  Pair that with the cost of autos and you have a very pricey Saturday afternoon.  I didn't see money hampering anyone there, including myself.  Yes, I spent more than I care to share and I saw many more like myself doing the same.  It was good to see the hobby is still thriving, if not sometimes in spite of itself. 

My goals were to walk away with some player PC cards, a couple wax boxes, a set or two completed, and possibly an autograph.  Here is an idea of what I ended up with.

  • Player Collection Cards:  20+ Jaromir Jagr cards, 50+ Mario Lemieux cards, 4 Bill Guerin cards
  • Complete Sets: 7
  • Partial Sets: 1
  • Set Fill-ins:  70+ 2009-10 O-Pee-Chee Hockey cards, 15+ 2009-10 Upper Deck Hockey set (I am 1 card short!!)
  • Wax Boxes:  2007-08 O-Pee-Chee Hockey Hobby Box, 2009-10 Champs Hockey Hobby Box
  • Team Collections:  25+ Penguins cards
  • Game Used:  15 Game Used cards
  • Supplies:  1 box of 9-pocket pages

Overall, it was a great show.  I haven't been to this show in many years and it was definitely better than I remembered.  It was nice to see so many collector's actively involved in their hobby.  Despite the numbers of people there, I somehow managed to run into Sal from Puck Junk at one of the tables that featured a larger hockey selection.  It is always cool when you get to talk with a fellow collector about a hobby that you share in common.  That is another reason why I love this blog community.  Regardless of what or how we collect, we all share that common thread and the passion for our hobby. 

I should be posting some of what I ended up with over the next week or so.  I will also be posted my box breaks for the OPC and the Champs.  I am going on vacation from Wednesday until Sunday so my posting may be limited if not at all for those days.