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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Traded Mid-shift

Not quite but almost. 

Mike Cammalleri was just traded to the Calgary Flames seemingly in the middle of the game.  As the game was moving on, I started wondering where he was and then Jack Edwards pipes up and says he was just sent to the hotel to pack.  This is by far the most insane thing I have ever heard since the last insane thing Montreal did...only a few weeks ago when they fired their coach.

In exchange for Cammalleri, Karri Ramo of the KHL, and a 5th rounder, Calgary sends Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland (WHL), and a 2nd round pick in 2013.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tin Break - - 2011-12 Upper Deck Series I

Yes I said Tin.  Every year, Upper Deck releases some type of tin box with their retail product.  This year, Series I features a tin box with 12 packs and a Jumbo Winter Classic card that features last years WC between the Capitals and Penguins, you know, the one that killed Sidney Crosby?  Yeah, that one.  Each pack has 8 cards just like the other retail packs that are out there.  The difference between a normal blaster, though, other than the Jumbo card, is that you get at least 2 UD Canvas cards, generally 3-5 Young Guns, and actually have a chance at pulling a GU card at 1 every 2 tins.  The other difference is price.  These carry a price tag around the $30 mark.  A bit steep for the normal retail fare but it is really only $10 more than normal.

Since you can go all over and see the base cards, I figured I would just show what I was able to pull out of this one.  I picked up one of these when they first hit the market too but I literally (yes, literally) can't find the box.  How a tin full of cards disappears I will never know.  It may have been misplaced into the dreaded Card Garage which if that is the case, it might be gone forever.

So here goes:

 Here is my Jumbo card.  It's Jordan Staal sporting the WC jersey which is cursed and should be permanently retired.  Staal is out right now with a knee injury created by former teammate Mike Rupp in the game the other night against the Rangers.

 Here were my regular Young Guns cards.  I pulled Adam Larsson, Greg Nimesz, and Joe Vitale of the Pens.  Vitale has been a big surprise and a bright spot in this years crop of rookies for Pittsburgh.  If only there were more bright spots this year.  They dropped their 6th straight tonight against Washington, lost the 8th spot in the East, and were shut out for the first time in a year and a half.  Good job boys.  Let's get healthy, eh?

 I pulled 2 UD Canvas cards just as expected.  What wasn't expected was the fact that one of them was a Young Gun.  It's none other than Mika Zibanejad.  Gesundheit!!  These are seeded about 1 in 4 tins in the retail so a nice pull even though the subject could be questionable.  I'm kidding of course.  Mika isn't a bad player at all and is a pretty highly touted prospect for his size and physical play as a defensive minded forward.  In fact, if any of you have been watching the World Junior Tournament, he scored the game winning goal for Sweden to win the gold medal.  I wonder if his cards will skyrocket now???  Not likely, I'm sure.

 There were two of the ever popular Ultimate Team cards.  Here we have Dion Phaneuf and Taylor Hall.  There are those that say these have no business being counted as cards at all and should just be lumped in with the other "ad" cards you sometimes pull.  I don't care either way.  I don't think they are horrible although I am not a huge fan either.

 I did pull one Hockey Heroes card.  Here we have 7 time All-Star in the 1950s, Alex Delvecchio.  They changed these up this year with featuring a decade rather than a particular player.  I like them.  I like them a lot.

 And finally, I pulled a Tim Thomas All World Team card.  I am not a big fan of these either as they tend to permeate the retail versions of Upper Deck hockey.  They aren't bad this year as they show the national colors along the bottom edge rather than a small flag.  I have been pulling Thomas cards a bunch lately.  I have two or three GU that have come from other recent products that I'm sure I will get to in other posts sometime soon.

Again, these are a little more cash than the traditional retail blaster but you do get the extra Canvas card and the Jumbo.  Plus you will get an extra Young Gun or two over what is in a normal blaster.  I only wish the tins were more practical to store cards in.  If you leave the insert in there, you can get a couple small stacks of cards but without the insert, cards fly around all over the place.  If you can imagine, I have way too many empty tins lying around.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Box Break - - 2005-06 Upper Deck Series II Hobby Box

The Chicago Sun-Times is good for a couple shows a year and last year was no different.  Even with the National being in Chicago this year, I still have an affinity for these shows because they are always well put together, feature a good selection of vendors and dealers, and have a great line up of autograph guests.  This past November was no different.

While perusing some tables for any interesting hockey deals I could get my hand on, I came across a guy with a bunch of older boxes and bulk discounted sets from the late 80s/early 90s.  As I fumbled over a few piles of stuff, I came across this box mixed in with the 1990 Pro Set and 1991 Score...

For those that can't see the box because of the crappy scan, it's a hobby box of 2005-06 Upper Deck Series II.  The best part about the box is that it was under $35.  Since the Crosby Young Gun was in Series I, the consolation prize in this box would be the Ovechkin rookie, with a slim chance at pulling the Victory Update rookie of Crosby or Ovechkin.  A small price to pay for the opportunity to possibly pull one of those beauty's. 

I couldn't wait till I got home so I proceeded to bust it at one of the tables near the snack bar in front of a live studio audience.  Here is the breakdown of a typical box:

8 Cards/Pack
24 Packs/Box
3 Game Used Cards (approx.)
6 Young Guns Rookies (approx.)
1 Victory Update card/Pack
Randomly inserted Rookie Threads Autos and Rookie Ink cards.

The key rookies include, as I said, Alex Ovechkin, along with Jeff Carter, Thomas Vanek, Mikko Koivu, Ryan Getzlaf, and Johan Franzen.

And away...we...go...

I'll just get this out of the way now.  I don't remember if it was 6 packs, 7, 9, it doesn't matter.  What matters is that I pulled the top two cards that could have possibly come out of here.  The Victory Update rookie of Sidney Crosby and the Ovechkin Young Gun.  Ok, I will say it...Boom!! Goes the dynamite!!

 A couple FINALIST insert cards.  Here we have Tony Esposito as a Rookie Finalist and Bobby Clarke as an All Time Greatest Finalist.  I'm not real sure what the point of this set was but it is nicely designed and features a good many stars of yesterday.

 I figured I'd show some love to the other Young Guns that I pulled.  We have ex-Penguin Ryan Whitney, Johan Franzen (the 12th best card in the set), RJ Umberger, and Brad Winchester.  I did pull one other but I don't remember who it was and I obviously didn't scan it.

 There is also a STARS IN THE MAKING set which feature younger players that are poised for greatness.  The cards feature a date captured in time that features some significant event in each players career.  I pulled Mike Richards and Dion Phaneuf.  These cards remind me too much of the Game Breakers and Stars of the Game sets you find in Victory. 

The Hometown Heroes sets are either loved or hated.  The sideways layout is nice for a change of pace but makes for a pain if you would put these in an album.  Here we have Dany Heatley then of the Senators.

There is also a GOAL CELEBRATIONS set that really misses the mark as none of the featured photos really shows anyone celebrating.  I'm not real sure Upper Deck's design team knew what the wanted here.  The checklist is decent though.  Here we have ex-Thrasher, current Devil Ilya Kovalchuk.

I'm not scanning the base cards because you have all seen them before.  If not, Google it.

And now the GU cards...

My first pull was this lovely Rookie Threads Andrej Meszaros card.  It's a single color swatch as you can see, of a player that I really had no interest in.  At least he was a #1 pick in his draft.  Andrej is on the Flyers I think now.

 GU #2 is this other lovely single color swatch card of Kyle Calder.  I think this was the last year Kyle was on the Hawks before spending time in Detroit, LA, Philly, and Anaheim.  You'd have to ask a Blackhawks fan if he was ever any good.  As far as I can tell, he had at least two seasons with 30+ goals.  That's not bad I guess.  Kyle is retired now, as far as I know.

Finally, we had this Game Used...

Another crappy single color swatch but on an awesome card.  A second Ovechkin rookie only a Rookie Threads Game Used card.  I was shocked when this came out of the box.  So was everyone else around me. This card rounded out one of the best boxes, if not THE best box, I have ever opened.  Pick one of these up if you can find it for under $50 bucks.  It's a fun break and you have some nice chances to win big.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Well It's Official

That sad, pathetic display of what they tried to pass off as football marked an end to my 2011 NFL viewing  season.  Call me a sore loser if you will but with all the injuries that have plagued the Steelers this season, it's a wonder how they even made it to a wild card game in the first place.  Big Ben had no business playing any of the last three weeks.  We lost Mendenhall with a blown ACL.  Clark is out with sickle cell-like symptoms because of the thin air in Denver.  Troy has been hurt off and on most of the season, the O-line has been banged up since 2006.  I could go on, and on.

I would like to congratulate the Denver Broncos defense in their decisive victory over the Steelers this afternoon.  I know what you are thinking?  But DFG???  The Denver offense was who put the beating on Pittsburgh.  True.  However no team lead by Tim Tebow will I ever give credit to as long as I live (I don't think that is correct grammar either but what are you, the Grammar Police?).  I am not a fan, never was a fan, and never will be a fan.  Despite his obvious ease at picking apart the battered and bruised backup Steelers D on 20+ yard passes today, I will still borrow a line from Dennis Green and say, he was who I thought he was.  One game will not change that opinion.  Anyone who watched the game saw that anymore than a 3 man pass rush and he crumpled like a piece of paper.  His success only came after both Brett Keisel and Big Snack went down with injuries and never came back into the game.  With no pass rush, he was able to bide time and make the decisions that his slow functioning brain could make.  On one play alone, I counted 8 seconds before a defender was able to get into the backfield.  That's unacceptable for the overall #1 defense and is the reason the game ended like it did.  There, I said it...sour grapes.

But seriously, I don't like hype machines.  I don't like them in any sport or in any aspect of life.  All they do is get people's hopes up for good things and then it makes it 1000x's worse when they inevitably backfire.  Yes I said inevitably because that's what happens.  I'm not saying Tebow will be a bust (although one can hold onto hope) but he can't consistently play cardiac level ball and survive.  He just can't.  If he can pull the same crap on New England next week, I may change my mind a bit but I'll believe it when I see it.  Speaking of believing what you see, what was that thing on his lip?  Is that the syphilis flair up they have been talking about?  Or maybe that herpes he thought he got treated?  I don't know but it looked nasty.

So getting back to my original point, the season is over for me.  If I watch another football game so be it but I will not be making a concerted effort to, not even the Super Bowl.  Most of the teams left, I have no desire to see continue any further so I will now devote 100% of my attention to my favorite sport, women's beach volleyball...I mean hockey, yeah that's it.  Hockey!!    

I can't believe we lost to this.

Opposite Day

I forgot to mention in my last post that it was opposite day and the score prediction was reversed.


Wildcard Sunday - - Foreshadowing The Destruction of Tebow (wishful thinking...?)

Before I get into some big, overblown, drawn out explanation of how the Steelers can beat the Broncos later today, let me just say this...The Steeler's D has two jobs today...stopping the run and preventing the "big" play. All week, the analysts and reporters have all been talking about how Denver is going to start slinging the ball and if they are going to win, Tebow will have to come out throwing.  While this is probably true, lets' face facts here.  The "chosen one" has completed 41% of his passes in the last three games and has 1 TD to 4 INTs.  So I don't expect them to be gun-slinging like former Bronco legend John Elway says they will. 

Instead, Denver is going to run the ball.  They have the top ranked running game in the league and the Steelers have shown time and time again that this year has been an "off" year for their normally #1 ranked run defense. The key is going to be for the front line to not allow anything through.  Too often this year, the Steelers D has looked more like a piece of Swiss cheese rather than the Steel Curtain.  The front guys have missed their marks which have opened up holes into the linebackers.  Unfortunately, the backs have just missed their assignments all too often.  The Steelers secondary can't be relied on to stifle the running game by themselves and 90% of the time, at that point it is too late.   

With all that being said, the potential problem is the Steelers offense.  While the defense should be able to hold their own versus a one dimensional Denver offense, the offensive line will have to come up big trying to protect Big Ben and his bum ankle.  Expect to see a ton of multiple tight end schemes to give Ben a little more time by holding off the outside rushers.  The second issue is the running attack.  Denver is beatable on the ground but Pittsburgh is without Mendenhall and will instead go with Isaac Redman and his former practice squad teammate John Clay.  Both of these guys can pound the ball but don't offer much in the way of finesse running. 

Since I don't think Denver can put up a ton of points, if the Steelers come out of the gate and get up early by a couple scores, the game could be over.  Stopping the running game and forcing Tebow into throwing situations or flushing him out of the pocket early could lead to some turnovers.  My prediction:  The Steelers come out throwing, score a couple of nice, long, time consuming drives to go up 14-0 and then break out the running game to wear down the Broncos D.  As long as Ben can keep the ball out of the other team's hands and if Troy can pull out a couple of big plays, this will be a good victory en route to New England.

Final score:  Pittsburgh 31, Denver 13