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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pens vs. Blackhawks; 3 Stars

The Pens were able to hold off an 8 minute Blackhawk barrage in the 3rd period to hang onto a 3-2 win at Consol tonight.  The Pens are now 2 games out of 1st in the division and I believe 3 games back in the East.  The Hawks, despite the loss, are still statistically the best team in hockey.  Tonights 3 stars Crown Royale style...

3. Viktor Stalberg - - this guy was a beast on the ice and if it wasn't for the posts, the game would have been 4-2 Hawks.  He deserves it.

2.  Marc-Andre Fleury - - Fleury, as usual, is a beast in net for the Pens.  He continues to dominate in the absence of many players due to injury.  Clearly the MVP of the team thus far.

1.  Evgeni Malkin - - He has definitely stepped it up in Crosby's absence.  He had 6 shots on goal and 3 assists to show for it.  He also took a high stick in the face which led to a 4:00 penalty, that eventually saw the game winner scored. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Christmas, You're Fired!

Sounds like something The Donald would say on his continually watered down reality show, doesn't it?  Well the only reality here is that Jacques Martin has been fired as the Habs coach.  I have many comments and thoughts on this subject, although I probably shouldn't even care.  But I'm gonna let anyone that would like the floor to voice their thoughts. 

Here is the six degrees of separation to the Penguins...1 step...Cunneyworth spent four seasons with the Pens from 1985-1989.  He was a work horse winger, playing 70+ games a year, all of which scoring over 40 points each season.  

But I will say this, as much as I liked Randy Cunneyworth as a player when he was on the Pens back in the day...come on, folks.  The guy doesn't even speak French. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Show & Tell: Player PC Addition

I don't post a whole lot of PC love on the site.  I don't know why either.  The whole purpose of collecting is to collect what you like, right?  Well I felt that this one was definitely share worthy. 

I picked this one up from the Bay about a week or two ago.  It comes from the ITG Canada Vs. The World set that came out this year.  I haven't picked up any boxes of this (I know, shocking isn't it?) and really didn't plan on it as their were many other priorities when it hit the shelves.  I like them.  I mean, I like everything ITG puts out.  I just didn't get overhyped by the set or concept. 

I have been a little gun shy about Jags since his Benedict Arnold loving butt parked itself in Philadelphia.  He meant so much to the Pens and the city of Pittsburgh in his time spent there that although it was a business deal, every fan felt betrayed.  So I have been less than motivated to add to this collection.  But, lets face it.  He is still one of the greatest ever. 

So when I saw this, I had to have it.  Let's just say it looks 1000X's better in person than it did in any picture.  Here's my contribution to show and tell...

The best part is that it shows Jags in his early 2000's Pens jersey with a Penguin swatch as well as a swatch from his Czech Republic sweater from world competition.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Down Time

For anyone that may have noticed, the site has been inaccessible for a few days.  For as good as Blogger has been about keeping things clean around here, they failed epically recently.  While looking over my "blog roll" on the side, I noticed that there was some "questionable" advertising posted on my main page.  Upon further review, many of my posts, a ton of my images, and links to my pages had all been changed to...lets just say sites that are unrelated to either sports or cards (although I guess some might call it a sport).  Either way, I apologize to anyone that may have been offended but I think it may be fixed for now. 

Let me know if you find anything that might be broken.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving (or in Canada, Happy Thursday)

Thanksgiving is a time to reconnect with family and friends.  It's a time to not only celebrate the beginning of the holiday season but also to reflect on all the things that have brought joy and cheer to us throughout the year.  But enough of that sappy, sentimental crap.  Since this is a card/sports blog, here is what I am thankful for in relation to this great hobby of ours.

5.  I am thankful that the card companies are all finally starting to wise up to the fact that the blogging community of card collectors are not going away.  This past year, especially, the manufacturers have began paying attention to the blogs, listening to the suggestions of collectors and taking heed to the voice of the hobby.  Many of them have established their own blogs in addition to taking advantage of Facebook, Twitter, and the other social media outlets that are available.  It is a new age in card collecting and they are finally realizing they need to get out of the 80s.  Although there are many things broken with the hobby, this is probably this biggest step in the right direction in many, many years.

4.  I am thankful for (and you may chastise me as you wish) my local card shop.  Although the brick and mortar store of old has become as rare as the blue footed booby, those of us fortunate to have one nearby (that being a relative term) still use it to our advantage.  I have used my shop to meet other collectors, talk about the hobby, trade with collectors, increase my collection, and of course pick up those ever elusive supplies that I need almost too regularly.  Despite the draw to buy online and save the money, I'm still old fashioned in that I like to see it, touch it, and open it right there amidst the glass cases of cardboard heaven.

3.  I am thankful for the fact that it would appear, at least on the surface, that card redemption programs seem to be on their way out or at the very least, gearing for an overhaul.  Although there are still many manufacturers that still put them into packs to the chagrin of us collectors, it seems they are getting less and less over the last three years.  I'll clarify this by saying that my experience is 95% with hockey products and there are only two manufacturers since 2010-11 and only one since 2005.  While I have had a better than average experience with getting the cards back from the manufacturers, we all know that many of you have not.  Of course my biggest gripe has always been the expired redemptions.  I'm not a "big hit" collector but there is nothing that bugs me more than pulling a redemption that could have been an auto or GU of someone highly collectible only to find out that they are sorry but they can't honor an expired redemption.  But nonetheless, it seems it may be close to running it's course.  We can only hope, right?

2.  I am thankful that I have the privilege of being a Pittsburgh sports fan.  Let's face it, we have some storied franchises in the Burgh that have great tradition and a long history of championship caliber competition.  We have a 3 time Stanley Cup winning team currently with some of the best talent in all the NHL.  These guys are young, highly skilled, well coached, and very entertaining to watch.  They put a great product on the ice that continually sells out each and every night.  We have a 6 time Super Bowl championship team that, at least right now, appears to be primed for at least another playoff run.  They have been in the playoffs 26 times, most of which in my lifetime, won 20 division titles, and 8 conference championships.  We also have a baseball team (originally I ended it there but...) who believe it or not, do have 5 World Series rings.  Sure they haven't fielded a winning team since I was in middle school but that's no reason to fret.  I have had an opportunity to see some great players come up through the ranks, developing into solid star players (for other teams).  I have no ill feelings toward the Pirates though.  It makes it easy to be a team collector when no one else out there wants anything to do with their cards.

1.  Most of all, I am thankful for all the great people I have talked with, emailed, met, traded with, and interact with on an almost daily basis in this awesome hobby.  The people that blog are some of the nicest, most grounded, down to earth people you will ever meet.  Since starting this blog in 2009, I have grown my collection 10 fold and it is mostly due to the blogging community.  Everyone is generous and eager to help other collectors out (I should follow their lead sometime when I grow up).  I never thought that this hobby and blogging experience would amount to much other than a creative outlet for my compulsion (which it has) but it has also brought me some great friendships.  I am glad I have carved out my own little piece of this great community of ours.

I encourage anyone else, both blogger and reader to share what they are thankful for in this hobby.  If you have a blog and published a post like this already, put the link in the comments.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!! 
(unless of course you are in Canada then I say to you, Happy Thursday)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Welcome Back, Sid!!

End of the 1st period...Crosby already has 1 goal and an assist to boot.  He's got 4 shots on goal and he has been cross checked in the back and blasted into the one got upset, no one made a fuss, life goes on. 

Just because I thought it was pretty funny, here's a video from Benstonium.

End of the 2nd Period...Crosby gets another assist on a sweet stuff goal by Malkin.  Pens are up 4-0 (I know it's just the Islanders but so what?).  He's only logged just under 12:00 minutes but if you are watching this game at all, you will know that he is working hard every second he is out there.  The instincts are still there, the power is still there, the speed is still there.  The only thing missing is the stamina but give him a week or two and that will be back too.  This team could be lethal.

If you missed "The Goal", relive it here.

End of the game...Crosby...Period!  Pens win 5-0!

2 Goals, 2 Assists, 8 shots on goal, just under 16:00 of ice time.  Oh, and the #1 Star of the Game.  It's like he never missed a day.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Crosby Returns To The Ice, Finally (FOR REAL THIS TIME!!!)

After 61 straight games of being absent from the line-up, Crosby will finally take the ice Monday against the Islanders.  CES will most definitely be a rockin' place to be and I wish I could be there to see it.  My guess is that whatever game is on TV that night will be trumped just for this moment the world has been waiting for. 

I, for one, am glad that we will no longer have to see constant interviews and media scrums questioning Crosby's availability, health, stamina, head-aches, black outs, dry-skin, foot odor, and the occasional not so fresh feeling he sometimes gets.  It is time to put away the rumors and conjecture regarding his ability to bounce back, his wasted potential due to injury, and the idea that he would prematurely retire.  I'm not going to compare this to when Lemieux fought through injury after injury, as well as beating cancer to come back on the ice because it isn't the same thing.  But for this generation of Pens fans (and the hockey world as a whole) it is pretty darn close.  Love him or hate him, there is no denying the impact Sid has made on the game in his short NHL career. 

(More on this card here later)

So now that he is back, the struggling Pens can finally get back on track.  I mean, there was no way they could have won without him, right?  WRONG!!  The Pens have been playing some of the best hockey in the entire league through the first 20 games, going 11-6-3.  They are tied with Philly for the most points in the East.  My questions now center around one central theme, How long is it going to take?  How long to get his legs under him?  How long to get back to the elite level?  How long before his line gels with him?  How long before will be blasted into the boards for the first time?  Is he going to hear footsteps every time he goes after a puck?  And most importantly...will he ever learn to grow facial hair correctly?

The first game back should be a good test to see where he is health-.  The Islanders are basically back to, well, Islander hockey.  They have won two games in the last 13 including a 6-0 shellacking against the Bruins on Saturday.  With all the issues they have been having, it should make for an interesting matchup.  I'm not going to be the leader of the Lord Stanley chant any time soon but I can't help to think of how much better the Pens might look going forward. (barring another injury, of course.)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Crosby Returns To The Ice, Finally!!!

Or that's what I would be saying if it were actually true.  But alas, it's another day of speculation and conjecture on the subject by the media, the fans, the team, and of course the man himself.  No he will not be in the lineup on Friday as it was rumored.  No he will not be in the lineup at all this weekend.

I think the latest fuel that's been added to the fire was yesterday's trade of Mark Letestu to the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Are the Pens clearing a roster spot?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But I do know this...Ray Shero up to this point in time has been a trading/waiver wire/drafting genius.  Until he screws up royally, I trust he knows what's best. 

Mark was a decent guy for most of his Pens career but this year has just stunk up the joint.  Plus with Staal, Malkin, some injured guy, Jefferey, Adams, Vitale, etc., playing time would be at a premium on the front lines.  He claims he is happy about the trade.  Wouldn't you be?  Going from the best team in hockey to the worst team in hockey.  I know I would.  Um, wait a minute.  What?  Oh, yeah that's it.  He wanted more playing time.  Well he's guaranteed to get it in Ohio.  I'm pretty sure he will turn out to be a decent contributor as well.  He even already has a goal in his first game.

In return, the Pens got 4 felt tip markers, a broken Ouija board, and some half eaten Jell-O pudding cups.  Sounds fair to me.  I mean, that's more than they got in the Jagr trade.  Just kidding.  They got a fourth-round pick in next years draft, which, by the way, will be held in Pittsburgh.  The team now has 8 picks in the 2012 draft.

Hey, maybe this means Tangradi will get a phone call.  What's that you say?  He did get the call?  Why yes.  Yes he did!!  Don't blow it this time, kid.  You are the leading scorer on WBS, 12 points in 12 games, top 10 in scoring in the AHL, don't let it go to your head.  Work for it!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Prediction

Well we are here.  It is week 8 in the NFL and it has come down once again to a home game against the New England Cheatriots, I mean Patriots.  At this point in the season, the Pats are 5-1 and have the best record in the AFC.  The Steelers, however, are 5-2, and with a win against the Patriots at Heinz Field, would become the leader atop the AFC.  I'd be the worst Steelers fan in history if I tried to slant this little post down the middle so I'll get this out of the way now...I hate the Patriots; I hate Bill Belichick; I hate Tom Brady.  I've never met any of these people.  I don't know them personally.  Are they nice guys?  Don't know.  Don't care.  I hate them for what they have done over the last 10-12 years to my Steelers.  That should be enough.

I wish I could say this was going to be another easy stroll through the park but I don't think that is the case.  The Pats are 4-1 at Heinz Field.  Yes, I said 4-1.  That means that 80% of the time, they win.  I believe that is the best record for any team not in the AFC North against the Steelers at home since Heinz Field opened in 2001 (of this I am probably incorrect but it sounded good and makes my point).

The Patriots are also 9-2 after a bye week since Belichick took over the team in 1999.  This means that they take the extra time with the week off to prepare and dissect their opposing defense's tendencies so that by the time game day arrives, they have already beaten their opponent in their minds and in the playbook.  Their 8 game, post-bye week win streak proves that. 

Also, Tom Brady is 6-1 against the Steelers.  6-1!!  No other quarterback (again, not in the AFC North) can say that.  He wins at home, on the road, in the playoffs, it doesn't matter.  The guy just has a brain for football and can breakdown a defense like a great field general in battle.  I don't think I would even be as upset if any of these games would have been tightly contested.  But in the last two wins alone, Brady has passed for 749 yards with seven touchdowns.  In all, he has thrown for over 2,000 yards and 14 touchdown.  And the worst part, he does this from an upright position.  For some reason, the annually top ranked defense has the most problems getting him to the ground or picking off his passes.  He's a surgeon and I hate him.

So, what do the Steelers need for a win?  There is no doubt that New England is going to light up the Steelers' defense.  I'm guessing there will be, once again, a ton of yards and the score to match.  But the difference this year is that Big Ben and the Steelers' offense will do the same thing.  Pittsburgh has moved, slowly, from a run-first type, punch-you-in-the-mouth kind of team to an air-it-out, deep threat, yardage-by-chunks kind of offense.  I'm not saying I like this but it is pretty exciting to watch.  The edge still goes to Tom but not by much, in my opinion.  The real difference has to be in the defense.  The Steelers are better equipped to stop the Patriots than the other way around.  Don't expect to see three TE touchdowns like last year.  And don't expect to see Wes Welker run loose all over Heinz Field. 

So my prediction...Steelers 27 Patriots 24.  It's going to take virtually a flawless game.  And these guys in particular need to step it up and play perfect.

 Yards will be at a premium and Mendy will need to break a few to keep Pittsburgh in this.

Not much more can be said about these two.  Ben has to be perfect.  PERFECT!!  No turnovers.  No stupid sacks.  No throwing the ball up in desperation.  And there is no doubt Troy will be all over the field.

 Sanders will start in place of Hines Ward.  Welcome to the big show.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Box Break - - 2008-09 Upper Deck Series II Hobby Box

I know there are many of you out there that are a lot like me in that the majority of your card spending budget is consumed in some retail establishment or another.  I didn't say all, just the majority.  This means that you seldom, if ever get an opportunity to pick up something with a hobby version.  I say seldom because depending on where you go, there are those rare occasions when the vendor that stocks the trading card aisle has a rogue box from the world of hobby products.

A little while back (ok it was probably a long while back since I have been seemingly too busy or lazy or both to post anything in forever) that very event occured.  On the shelf amongst all the baseball blasters and value boxes was this...

A hobby box of 2008-09 Upper Deck Series II Hockey.  I knew if I was so inclined I could get one of these from my LCS but how could I pass up one that was about $30 cheaper?

As this is Series II of Upper Deck's flagship release, the box collation was expected to be much like Series I.  There are an average of 6 Young Guns rookies per box, 2 GU cards per box, and a whole host of inserts that fall about 1:4 packs.  Also in Series II are the Victory Update cards.  All of the high series Victory cards from their set each year are included 1 per pack in Series II and number 251-350.  Victory Rookies tended to fall about 1:4 packs.  So with two GU and a bunch of inserts, there is also the potential for 12 rookies (6 Young Guns, 6 Victory Rookies).

I realize that most of you have seen these before and probably have thousands of them (like me) so I will spare you the base card scans.  Just know that these are the typical full bleed photos that Upper Deck is known for.  The cards are borderless, with only a silver stripe sectioning off the name plate.  The backs are also nice because they feature an additional player photo (a headshot) as well as stats that cover more than just a year or two in a players career.  Upper Deck always does well with their bread and butter set and hopefully this year's release (2011-12) will continue this same tradition.

So as I said, this box was different.  Funny enough, this became one of the better boxes I have opened this year.  Why?  Well mainly for one reason.  I was able to finally complete my 2008-09 set.  I know that doesn't seem like all that much considering I have broken some very nice boxes over the past 10 months but those last 8 cards for this set were becoming impossible to track down.  It is always a good day when you are able to knock something completely off your set needs list.

Other than that, it was a pretty basic box with a typical collation.  Here is what came out.

This is actually a very nice Rookie Materials card with a two color swatch of Mr. Turris.  I wish I could say that he is tearing up the league at this point in his career but unfortunately, for this year at least, that isn't the case.  Kyle is in a battle with Phoenix management over his contract and has yet to play a single game.  If you believe the rumor mill known as ESPN, apparently he wants out of Phoenix completely.  Coyotes GM Don Maloney has already said that he has no interest in letting him go though.  Basically if he doesn't get a contract signed by December 1 he won't be playing for Phoenix or anyone else this season. 

Here is some guy from the Lightning.  It almost seems like if you aren't named Stamkos or St. Louis, you are an after thought in Tampa.  That's unfortunate because as good of a player as Lecavalier is/was, his play always get overshadowed by Stamkos and his other diminutive teammate.  I guess this would be considered the "other" hit in my box.

I pulled one Tales Of The Cup insert.  Here we have a bearded Doug Weight from his time with Carolina and their Cup win in 2006.  This is a very nice set to collect because it captures that moment that every hockey player dreams of achieving from the time they first strap on a pair of skates.

I pulled two The New Guard inserts.  Here we have Jonathan Toews and Marian Gaborik.  With a set name like New Guard, I would have expected this to be an all goalie set.  But what do I know?

This is from the Favorite Sons insert set.  These are kind of like the Hometown Heroes set from the year before (and year before that I think).  I don't think I am really a fan of these. 

The two above are the Spectacular Saves inserts.  These had potential and feature supposedly spectacular saves made by their respective goalies.  Of course you don't really get much from a still picture.  This would probably be a good idea for one of those new Video Cards that are "all the rage" in the hobby.  It comes across as a much better sell when you can actually see the save in action.  Here we have the now relegated to backup duty Evgeni Nabokov.  He was potentially going to split time with Al Montoya when the year started but I think he has only played in 3 or 4 games thus far.  Also, the now retired Chris Osgood.  Ozzie was a mainstay in net for Detroit for many, many years and retired as Detroit's all time leading goal scorer for goalies (he had 1).  You didn't expect me to list that as a highlight, did you?  Coincidentally, Naby had one too against Vancouver. 

I'd be remiss if I didn't post a few of the Victory high numbers as well.


Nobody really noteworthy in this lot.

 A couple of Gold Parallels including Michael Frolik's Rookie.  Not bad.
I actually pulled a Black Parallel as well.  These are seeded about 1:4000 packs.  That might be an exaggeration but not by much.  A tough pull.  Unfortunately I ended up with Ron Hainsey. 

 Definitely a better selection here with Bogosian and Gillies.  I remember opening a lot of 2008-09 stuff and it seemed like Petr Vrana was in every pack I opened.  No change here.

 Again, nothing to see here.

But wait!  What is this?

I don't know, has anyone ever heard of this guy?  Isn't he good or something?  Too bad this wasn't the actual Young Guns card.

Speaking of which, last but not least, the 6 Young Guns that are "guaranteed" per box.  Nothing really to write home about in this mix.



So 2 GU cards, 6 Young Guns, 12 Victory rookies (including the Stamkos, and the one Gold Parallel), and a Black Victory parallel.  Considering all these and the fact that I polished off a set makes this a great break.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Player Collection

I think I have decided to make it official.  All this despite the fact that he was unable to secure a roster spot this year and the fact that this was the second year in a row where he was unable to do so.  Of course I am speaking of Penguins prospect Eric Tangradi.  He is so close to making the team it is sick.  He is going to have a few shots this year as his size and mobility around the boards makes him an excellent injury fill in.  I just hope he can make the best of them without injury.

So far this year he has one point on an assist for WBS.  That will inevitably increase as the 6'4" 225lb forward can not only bang down low but has a pretty good wrist shot.  We will of course see.

At any rate, I have added him to the side panel along with some scans of the collection thus far.  Positives...he only has about a 130 cards at this point.  Negatives...most of them are either autos, memorabilia, or 1/1s.  If you have anything that I may not have scanned in, let me know and we can trade.  Or as has become customary, you send it to me and then 8 months from now when you have forgotten, I return the favor.  (just kidding, partially).

Monday, October 10, 2011

In Honor Of Monday Night Football

I almost forgot I had these until someone asked me about them the other day. How is it that other people know what I have in my collection and I don't? I'll never figure that out.

I have no opinion either way on whether or not "manu-patches" should exist or not.  I happen to like the way this one looks so I have no problem with it.  I will admit I have seen some pretty ugly ones before but if it looks good, is generally unobtrusive to the design, and brings something to the card, why not?

If I remember correctly, I won this in a raffle on a trading website.  I don't remember which site it was though.  I'm pretty sure it was TradeCardsNow but it could have been The Bench.  No, it was TCN.  It had to be.  In case you can't tell, that is a sticker auto but nonetheless, it's a pretty nice card.  Too bad it wasn't #9.
I would have thrown up my Calvin Johnson 1/1 Sketch card but, alas, I no longer possess that item.  It was sold on the Bay a few weeks back for quite considerably less than I would have liked but more than I was offered when I took it to sell at the National.  Oh, what the heck.  You've all seen it before but here's to old times.

I suppose we should give the Bears some love...I guess.

I don't care if it is virtually worthless.  I love these Rookie Premier photo shoot cards.

He can't spell.  He can't speak in public.  He probably can't read either.  But man, can this guy run back a kick or what?