Saturday night is Charlie Sheen night in Bakersfield

The Bakersfield Condors scored 3 straight goals for a 5-4 comeback win against the Idaho Steelheads on Friday night. In case the fans didn’t get enough of it, the two teams renewed pleasantries on Saturday night. Same teams, same place, same bat channel. The joys of the ECHL. The Condors have clinched a playoff spot in the ECHL’s Western Conference and current sit in the 5th spot 3 points ahead of the Utah Grizzlies.

Why are we talking about the ECHL you ask? Well, when a team announces a Charlie Sheen night in honor of the troubled actor, they’ve earned themselves a little love. Of course, “troubled” is the nicest adjective we can use here—and we’re using the term “actor” loosely, but both currently apply.

Here’s a description of the creative promotion the Condors were hosting this evening at Rabobank Arena in beautiful Bakersfield, CA.

* Wear a fedora, or dress like any Charlie Sheen movie character and receive admission for two and a half bucks ($2.50).
* Bring a clean drug test and receive free admission.
* 2-for-1 Tiger Blood Icees and snow cones for the kids.
* The first 1,000 males will receive a Charlie Sheen face on a stick mask.
* Follow the Condors on twitter and we’re confident you won’t be nearly as entertained as if you followed Charlie Sheen on twitter. However, the Condors are inviting everyone to sign up to follow the Condors on twitter, and if we beat Charlie’s Guinness World Record of reaching one million followers in less than 25 hours and 17 minutes, we’ll let Charlie rename the team, as he seems to have a lot of creative ideas lately.
* Bring $2 million (reportedly as much as Charlie doesn’t earn with each cancelled episode) and you can own the Condors!
* Charlie’s dubbed “Goddesses” (Natalie Kenly and Rachel Oberlin) have been named as honorary captains for the game. We’re guessing the Steelheads won’t mind if they get to hang out on the bench.
* A rock band from Mars will play in front of the arena on the plaza before the game.
* Before this game, the Condors aren’t going to practice, attempting to channel Sheen’s no-rehearsal-required spirit. After all, to quote the great Allen Iverson, “We’re talkin’ about practice?!”

“We picked this date for the Charlie Sheen Night because we figured St. Patrick’s Day was a Holiday that Charlie enjoyed celebrating,” said Condors President Matthew Riley. “We would invite him come up to the game and participate in a ceremonial puck drop and just have fun for the night with our fans. We’ll even give him the ticket special for dressing up like himself.”

“And oh yeah, to stick with the Charlie Sheen theme, we plan on ‘winning’ the game.”

Unfortunately, neither Charlie Sheen, nor promotional St. Patrick’s Day jerseys were able to get a huge boost at the gate. In the most important number for the owners in Bakersfield, the attendance was 5,501 on Saturday night. The number was a slight boost from their 4.996 average crowd—but only last night they had 6,811 people in the stands. A boost is a boost—but probably not what they were expecting. Oh, and for the hockey fans, the Condors won again by a score of 2-1.

The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

Todd McLellan

Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

Some of the more choice quotes:

“I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

“When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

“We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”

Roy: Avs ‘need, expect more’ from Varlamov


The tough times continue for Semyon Varlamov.

After another unsuccessful outing on Monday — allowing four goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Islanders — Varlamov was subjected to a familiar refrain: Patrick Roy saying the Avs need more from their No. 1 netminder.


You can hear all of the head coach’s comments in the video above but, for brevity’s sake, here’s the Varlamov stuff:

“It’s not easy for him. Obviously we need that extra save and we didn’t get it on the road. It’s hard to win if you’re giving four goals on the road.

“We just need more from him. He’s our No. 1 guy and we’re behind him, but we need, we expect more from him.”

There has to be serious concern about Varlamov right now, if there wasn’t already.

His save percentage through seven games in November (.891) is marginally better than it was through seven games in October (.889), and that’s not the only alarming stat. Varlamov’s yet to record a shutout this year, yet to record back-to-back victories and has given up at least three goals in six of his last seven starts.

Not good.

Compounding things for Colorado are the standings. The Avs are now 9-14-1 and mired in the Central Division basement, meaning that — if they have any hope of going on a tear and getting back into playoff content — they’ll need to do it soon.

Which means they might not have the time, or the patience, for Varlamov to find his game.