Toronto Maple Leafs' Gunnarsson battles for the puck with Montreal Canadiens' Gionta during their NHL game in Toronto

Weekend Watch: Five games you need to see

4 Comments

This is the Weekend Watch. It’s a guide of what to watch this weekend.

Saturday: Toronto at Montreal, 7 pm ET

There’s widespread panic across Montreal as the Canadiens have yet to win at the Bell Center. Losses to Calgary, Colorado and Buffalo have Habs fans seething; they haven’t started this poorly at home since 1938 and according to Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette, “What some fans want Habs management to do is anatomically impossible. Even if they’re double-jointed.”

Saturday: San Jose at Boston, 7 pm ET

Sharks C Joe Thornton has only played in Boston three times since getting traded. In his first game back, he got tossed for hitting Hal Gill from behind. In his second game back, he scored a goal. In his third game back, he threw a game-high six hits. The point of this is that whenever Thornton goes back to The Garden, something noteworthy seems to occur. WHICH IS WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH THE GAME, SEE.

Saturday: Detroit at Washington, 7 pm ET

Barring injury, this will be Nicklas Lidstrom’s 1500th NHL game — yet that might not be the biggest storyline. Depending on what Detroit does against Columbus tonight, this could be a matchup of the NHL’s only unblemished teams. The Caps are off to a 6-0-0 start and the Wings currently sit at 4-0-0. Expect to hear lots of “possible Stanley Cup preview” chatter around this game, because that’s what hockey people do when they’re bored in October.

Saturday: Colorado at Chicago, 8:30 pm ET

The second of a home-and-home series (Chicago won 3-1 Thursday night in Colorado), this game could provide Semyon Varlamov with a chance to add to his “save of the year” dossier. His first entry was on Marcus Kruger late in the third period of Thursday’s game. You can watch the video here. Of course, the Avs could start J.S. Giguere in net and render this entire preview moot. I bet that’s what happens now, too. My life is one big Ziggy cartoon.

Sunday: Phoenix at Anaheim, 8 pm ET

You should watch this game because there’s nothing else on TV this Sunday. What’s that? The NFL? Oh yeah. Well that’s okay — they play football during the morning and afternoon, and this game is on at night. What’s that? NBC has Sunday Night Football?

Enjoy the weekend, everybody. And thanks for being so nice to us during our first week on the job. Except for that one commenter that told me to get a grip. That was mean.

Some tough decisions await the Blues

4 Comments

Yet again, the St. Louis Blues failed to achieve their ultimate goal.

And boy does it hurt right now.

“We’re all hurting,” coach Ken Hitchcock said last night after getting eliminated by the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final.

“You don’t want this to be our best opportunity. You want this to be a building block. In this game, in this era, in this cap world, you don’t know where you’re going to be a year from now.”

Indeed, GM Doug Armstrong has some tough decisions to make this offseason.

At the top of the list is whether to bring Hitchcock back. Yes, the Blues did better than 26 other teams, and yes, they finally got past the first round. Still, there are people who believe this will be it for the head coach, that a new voice could help. Overall, Hitchcock has done a great job in St. Louis. But then, so did Todd McLellan in San Jose. Sometimes, change can be good.

Then there are the unrestricted free agents. Both captain David Backes and winger Troy Brouwer need new contracts. The former is 32, the latter 30. The former had seven goals in the playoffs, the latter eight. How much money will they want? How much term? The second question might be the most important.

On the back end, it’s Kevin Shattenkirk that will garner the most attention. He’s signed through next season before he can become an unrestricted free agent. Just 27 years old, and considering the demand for what he does, he’ll be very expensive to keep. And with the emergence of Colton Parayko, trading Shattenkirk could probably be justified, especially if the return is good. A team like the Boston Bruins might be willing to pay up.

Right now, the pain is still fresh for the Blues.

“It’s so hard to win in the league right now,” said Hitchcock. “It’s so hard to win a series. So hard to just get in the playoffs. When you get this far, you get this close, you think you got the opportunity.”

The challenge for Armstrong will be to give his team another opportunity next season. And with the draft less than a month away, all these tough decisions will need to be made very soon.

Goals of the Week get tougher as Cup Final approaches

1 Comment

The Stanley Cup Final is almost upon us and picking the very best Goals of the Week is a tough task. See how we did on this edition!

Just for Men: Mike Commodore

RALEIGH, NC - JUNE 14:  Mike Commodore #22 of the Carolina Hurricanes warms up before game five of the 2006 NHL Stanley Cup Finals against the Edmonton Oilers on June 14, 2006 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Getty
2 Comments

Maybe one would argue that time hasn’t been kind to the 2006 Stanley Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes (at least compared to the pedigree of other winners), but Mike Commodore’s incredible red afro and beard rank as one of hockey’s most timeless combinations.

Seriously, just take a step back from your monitor* and bask in the splendor of that carrot-topped Commodore.

Even then-President George W. Bush remarked on Commodore’s bushy hair and beard (or its tragic absence) when the Canes visited the White House:

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. Have a seat. It’s a pretty big deal for a guy that doesn’t know how to ice skate — (laughter) — to welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to the White House. We appreciate you coming. You know, I’m not sure what is prettier, the Stanley Cup, or Mike Commodore’s hair. (Laughter.) A little disappointed you got a haircut. (Laughter.) But, welcome.

Good stuff.

And it really is kind of disappointing any time you see Commodore relatively clean-shaven. It’s like Superman without a big “S” on his chest or Metallica with short hair or any number of not-quite-right sights.

* – If you’re doing the Rumsfeld-style “standing at your desk” thing then … kneel for a second maybe?

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

Stanley Cup
1 Comment

There’s nothing better than a Game 7, especially when a spot in the Stanley Cup Final is up for grabs. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins will battle in a do-or-die game for the right to play the San Jose Sharks with Lord Stanley on the line. You can watch the game via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh (8:00 p.m. ET)

The television broadcast of Game 7 will be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the Live Extra app, click here.

Here’s some reading material to get you ready for this one:

Penguins, Lightning prepare for ‘roller coaster’ Game 7

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal