I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
The nominations are in, and we have a Top Four for Kraft Hockeyville.
Watch the video above for more information on the two rinks that made it in the East and the two that will represent the West region.
The two East rinks that made it to the Top Four are:
Ira S. Wilson Ice Arena: Geneseo, NY
A building that’s stood for more than 50 years is beginning to show its age.
The Rostraver Ice Garden: Belle Vernon, PA
Eight months after the roof collapsed back in 2010, the community made sure this busy rink was up and running again. Even so, this is another building that could use some upgrades.
To find out more, including details regarding prizes and individual vignettes for each location, visit krafthockeyville.com.
You’d need to be delusional to deny that the Minnesota Wild are in a tough spot after Friday’s loss.
They’re now down 2-0 in their first-round series against the Blues, and with both defeats at home, it means they need to get back into this bout with Games 3 and 4 in St. Louis.
Jake Allen‘s been playing at an absolutely elite level, going on one of those tears that can really frustrate a team. The Wild, for their part, are at least saying the right things.
Stream Blues vs. Wild on NBC Sports
“This series is long from over,” Chris Stewart said. “There’s no quit in this locker room.”
That doesn’t mean that there’s no room for improvement. After generating a massive advantage in shots on goal in Game 1, chances were fairly even on Saturday, with the Blues getting a late goal to win 2-1.
Zach Parise has, essentially, been the only player who’s been able to beat Allen, an unusual sign for a Wild team that’s enjoyed deploying waves of attackers during their best moments. At least they know that they need to ramp things up.
A playoff series can get away from you fast, particularly after burning home games. The Wild are at least making the right statements about showing urgency, but we’ll find out what they’re “made of” soon enough.
Check out the recap of Game 2 here.
Things felt different for the Minnesota Wild with Bruce Boudreau in charge. Veterans and young players alike have flourished. A team that consistently fell in bubble positions flirted with a Central Division title.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, things are all-too-familiar for the Wild and their postseason-cursed coach so far.
The Wild dominated much of Game 1, yet they lost to the Blues in overtime. Game 2 was a tighter affair with St. Louis succeeding 2-1, taking a 2-0 series lead as a few narratives carried over:
- Zach Parise seems to be the only player who can score against Jake Allen, who remains on top of his game. They haven’t been able to best him at even-strength, either.
- Joel Edmundson is turning into a sniper with two big goals in as many games.
- Did we mention that Jake Allen is on fire? Yeah, but it’s probably worth another reference. After looking like a Vezina-caliber goalie through February and March, it sure looks like St. Louis’ unquestioned No. 1 starter is carrying over that strong play into the April contests that mean the most.
- It’s probably unfair to say that Devan Dubnyk has been bad … but he hasn’t been good enough, with such a small margin of error.
Playoff hockey involves tight-checking affairs and hot streaks for goalies, something that Boudreau’s teams have suffered through before. With the series shifting to St. Louis for Games 3 and 4, it sure looks dire for the Wild at the moment.
Stream Blues vs. Wild on NBC Sports
They’ll need moments like Jaden Schwartz‘s late game-winner to start going their way, but will it happen too late (much like Charlie Coyle‘s would-be 2-2 tally)?
Things can change, but the answers seem familiar and unpleasant for Boudreau and the Wild so far.
Henrik Lundqvist was absolutely fantastic – again – in Game 2, but Alexander Radulov and the Montreal Canadiens just would not be denied.
After taking a few bad penalties, you would have expected Radulov to be in the doghouse. Claude Julien gave him a long enough leash on Friday to factor into the goal that sent Game 2 into overtime and then to score a hard-working OT-clincher to give the Canadiens a 4-3 overtime win.
With the latest game-tying goal in Canadiens franchise history and that big Radulov tally, the Habs have tied the Rangers 1-1 as the series shifts to Madison Square Garden.
Stream Rangers vs. Canadiens on NBC Sports
Lundqvist kept the Rangers in a game that was sometimes quite one-sided in Montreal’s favor.
Both Lundqvist and Carey Price made some tough stops in a hectic game, but Montreal’s 58-38 shots on goal edge tells much of the story; Lundqvist is rapidly silencing critics who noticed that he had an up-and-down regular season.
This was a thrilling, physical affair with the teams combining for 129 hits. (Check this post for one of the most violent moments of the contest.)
The Rangers go home splitting those first two contests, at least something of a victory, but Montreal avoided a disastrous start. We could be in for quite a treat as these two teams trade blows and two all-world goalies thwart some brilliant chances.
And Radulov might make himself some serious cash in the process.
Few, if any, hockey fans criticize Sidney Crosby‘s skills or effort. Plenty of people still have a problem with the Pittsburgh Penguins center’s passion, particularly when he straddles the line between feisty and dirty.
And, of course, there are plenty who can’t stand Crosby chirping at referees, even if it’s a pretty common practice among most players.
Crosby’s gotten pretty nasty with Brandon Dubinsky and other members of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and things have been quite chippy between the two teams in their opening games in Pittsburgh. The Columbus Dispatch is really feeding into the disdain (and Crosby’s “reputation”) with these “Sid the Kid masks.”
Stream Penguins vs. Blue Jackets on NBC Sports
You really just have to see them for yourself because … wow.
Update: the tweet has since been deleted, but Russian Machine Never Breaks has a screen grab of the mask.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen groups of fans go after Crosby, nor is this the only time a newspaper’s jumped into the fray. Remember the Chicago Tribune’s “Chrissy Pronger” debacle?
Even so, it’s bewildering anytime you see it. This isn’t a random Blue Jackets blog, mind you. It’s unlikely that this will make a bitter series any uglier – the two teams should provide the vitriol – but it’s still a surprising sight.
Especially if we see thousands in the stands during Game 3.