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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

NHL All Star Game Now The NHL Some Star Game

Over the years the NHL All Star game has grown to become a weekend long event featuring alumni games, celebrity games, skills competitions and many other events. But despite the pomp, it's been gradually losing it's luster with many hockey fans and a lot of that has to do with that fact that there is not a lot of "real" hockey that takes place.

Today, the NHL announced the rosters after releasing the team captains over the weekend. I will just say much of a fan I am of some of these guys and as much as I enjoy watching them play, some players honestly have no business on this list.  NHL rules require all the teams be represented but that will inevitably remove some of the best players in the divisions.  You'll probably read similar opinions out there as well because, at least this year, there seems to be more omissions.

Here are the lists as they stand today...

Atlantic Division Team
Auston Matthews
Steven Stamkos TEAM CAPTAIN
Nikita Kucherov
Brad Marchand
Jack Eichel
Sasha Barkov
Mike Green (D)
Erik Karlsson (D)
Victor Hedman (D)
Andrei Vasilevskiy (G)
Carey Price (G)

Let's start with the Atlantic, or as I like to call them, Tampa Bay Lite.  In their defense, the game is being held in Tampa this year and traditionally the ballot gets stuffed with local "heros".  But come on.  There are other teams in the Atlantic other than Tampa (I know the standings don't make that clear though).  Barkov was chosen because you had to have a Panther but I would probably have picked Huberdeau instead.  And why not Morgan Reilly?  Carey Price is only there because who else do you pick from Montreal?  Last I checked, Kovalev retired.  At least Matthews and Eichel should give a little bit of non-electric offensive flavor to the team

Metro Division Team
Alex Ovechkin TEAM CAPTAIN
Taylor Hall
Josh Bailey
John Tavares
Sidney Crosby
Claude Giroux
Noah Hanifin (D)
Kris Letang (D)
Seth Jones (D)
Henrik Lundqvist (G)
Braden Holtby (G)

I don't even want to comment about the Metro team...but I will.  That lineup is so mistake ridden from a "best of the best" standpoint.  Where in the world is Carmen San D...Kessel?  Seriously, this guy gets no respect.  EVER!  Phil has 18 goals and 29 points in 44 games this season so far (that's 11th in the league by the way).  He is one of the only reasons, offensively, that the Pens haven't fallen off the grid completely.  Get Crosby out of there.  I get that he's the league poster-boy but his season has been less than AS worthy and he will be the first to tell you as much if you ask. Not only that, he hates the ASG.  Every time he gets picked, he bails for one reason or another. Chalk it up to another snub in a long line of snubs for Phil.

What in the world is Letang doing on that list?.  He should have been there some other years he was skipped over, but certainly not this year.  Why not Ghost?  Where is John Carlson?  I hate the Caps and even I know he is a better D-man this year.  I would have even went with Zach Werenski over Letang...or anyone else.  Hanafin?  No.  Also what about Bob? Bobrovsky and his Vezina should be here.  I could go on, but I won't because it's too bothersome.

Central Division Team
Patrick Kane
Blake Wheeler
Brayden Schenn
Eric Staal
Nathan MacKinnon
Tyler Seguin
John Klingberg (D)
Alex Pietrangelo (D)
Connor Hellebuyck (G)
Pekka Rinne (G)

The Central Division team is missing one player of note in my opinion.  St. Louis' forward rep is Brayden Schenn, who is having a great year, but my money would have definitely been on Vlad Tarasenko.  The guy is amazing to watch play the game.  Every time he touches the puck, something phenomenal is most likely about to happen.  Plus, he's much better suited for the skills competition.  

Pacific Division Team
James Neal
Rickard Rakell
Brock Boeser
Anze Kopitar
Oliver Ekman-Larsson (D)
Drew Doughty (D)
Brent Burns (D)
Marc-Andre Fleury (G)
Jonathan Quick (G)

Finally, the Pacific Division team is somewhat of a mystery to me.  As much of a Fleury fan I am and the fact that he is on the upstart Vegas Golden Knights that are barnstorming the league and not just with beginners luck, why is he on the list?  Because the league wanted him to be, that's why.  I'm fine with that but he has been injured the majority of the season and until recently, hasn't been in the lineup since the first week of the season.  12 games deserves an AS nod? All apologies to Flower but either Marty Jones in San Jose or Gibby in Anaheim would have been much better choices.  

The Pac has the only rookie, too.  Vancouver's Brock Boeser is definitely deserving of the nod too.  But really, this team is a bit of a dud overall if you ask me.  

The game will be held January 28th at Amalie Arena in Tampa and aired on NBC.  I'll be watching out of obligation as a hockey fan (and secretly hoping for some injury replacements) but I will most definitely be more interested in the skills competition the day before.  More on that later.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Box Break Frustration

While at my LCS the other day, I decided we needed something to open in addition to all the singles we picked up.  From what was on the shelf, I went with 2016-17 O-Pee-Chee Hockey since I still have quite a few on that list to knock off and it's usually a fun product to open.  Two Octobers ago, we picked up a box of this. 

I wrote about it here...

So fast forward 15 months.  Change card shops (since the first box came from Baseball Card Exchange, also one of my LCS's), most likely distributors as well, obviously different shipments, and definitely different cases and we have a new, shiny box of O-Pee-Chee. 

I generally choose boxes based on the box bottom cards on the back.  For anyone not familiar, Upper Deck generally uses the O-Pee-Chee release to go retro, back to the old days of Topps and O-Pee-Chee by placing cards on the bottom of the boxes (so don't throw away your empties).  If I have the four-card panel already, I will generally choose a different combination.  If I happen to have all the panel combinations (there are usually only four or five each year), I'll most likely get one with a Penguin player. 

Well I chose wrong.

This entire box, if you can believe it, was filled with doubles.  In fact, not only were the base cards almost all dupes from the previous box, the inserts were as well.  Even most of the high number short prints were duplicates.  In all, there were 10 cards I needed.  10!  That's it.

How does this happen?  Well, it's simple.  My luck ran out.

I have opened plenty of product over the years and can't remember a time where I opened basically the same box twice...with the same base cards AND inserts.  Has anyone else had this happen where both the base cards and inserts were all identical in boxes?  I'd like to hear about it.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

LCS Gems

We had a few moments to kill this weekend and stopped by one of my local card shops that I hadn't been to in quite a while. More Fun Sports Cards in Dyer, IN has been my shop du jour for many, many years. I've spent a couple dollars in there since they moved the store to that location. I've written about their shop before as it's the type of shop most collector's wish they had. There is always a nice selection of all the major sports boxes, a huge variety of singles, quarter boxes, supplies, memorabilia, and a place to sit and hang out. Plus, with the collectors' that come in and out, the conversation is usually a lively one . I said, we stopped in there (we as in myself and my wife [yes, she not only condones cardboard but actively participates]) this weekend. It was a fruitful adventure once again as we were able to score a large pile of Upper Deck Young Guns for various sets I have been working on. We sifted through a large box of hockey rookies the owner recently acquired and were able to find a total of 68 Young Guns cards from 2005-06 through 2016-17. Shockingly enough, I didn't get destroyed on a price either considering they all were not "common" scrub rookie cards.

If you have ever looked at my set needs page, you have seen that I am working on a lot of sets, including all the Upper Deck flagship hockey sets going back quite a few years. The highly coveted, short-printed Young Guns are always the hardest to come by, at only six per hobby box and even less in retail. COMC has made this a bit easier over the last few years, especially since Upper Deck ePack allows your "hits" to be added to your account. The competition and virtual flooding of the actual market has made many of the lesser rookies very cheap. These can also be obtained sometimes at card shows too but that's never a guarantee (since I don't live in Canada).

Figured I'd share a bit of this score since it's the largest chunk I have made toward completing any of these sets in a long, long time.  

Here are a few pics of the entire haul...

In my opinion, some of the key guys in the stack...

Jack Johnson and Nicklas Backstrom

Kyle Palmieri and Victor Hedman

Leon Draisaitl and Justin Faulk

Brayden Point and Jesse Puljujarvi