Top 5

Jonas Hiller

Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller was born in Switzerland and is fluent in German, French and English. Here are his Top 5 cities in Europe:


  1. Bern, Switzerland

  2. Prague, Czech Republic

  3. Paris, France

  4. Barcelona, Spain

  5. Rome, Italy

NHL Confidential

Mike RichardsLake of the Woods, known more as a remote wildlife habitat straddling Minnesota and Canada, is also a summer favorite of Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards. The former Flyers captain has become an avid wakeboarder/wakesurfer at the lake when he's not on the ice. "It’s starting to" catch on, Richards said. "It’s relaxing to get out there with all your friends and spend a day on the lake."

JP

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Kraft Hockeyville USA 2019: Different, more of the same

Jordan Binnington
St. Louis defenseman Colton Parayko (left) and goalie Jordan Binnington get separated from a Detroit player during the third period of the Kraft Hockeyville USA game in Calumet, Michigan. (Photo by Shannon Stieg)

Three years ago, I got to be part of a blockbuster event.

After covering and participating in Kraft Hockeyville USA when it came to Marquette, Michigan in 2016, I thought that would be the peak moment of exposure for the Upper Peninsula. An often-overlooked place in the country (especially by the NFL and Mountain Dew), Marquette and the U.P. outlasted several other cities and towns in a nationwide campaign to land $150,000 in upgrades for the aging Lakeview Arena, and an NHL preseason game between Buffalo and Carolina. The game was a dud (a 2-0 win by the Sabres), but the event as a whole was a success. It was something many of us up here will never forget.

Then, unexpectedly, Hockeyville came back.

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31 NHL Team Previews in 31 Words or Less

Sitting in last place at the beginning of the 2019 calendar year, St. Louis provided optimism for every National Hockey League (NHL) team by rebounding all the way to a magical Stanley Cup championship run in June. The Blues won’t be the favorite to repeat. The title of this year’s favorite rests squarely with a squad that tied an NHL record for most points in a season — Tampa Bay.

Both the Blues and Lighting play in loaded, top-heavy divisions, which means success will hardly be a given. How will it all shake out? We’ll all find out next June.

Here are my predictions for all 31 NHL teams this season, in just 31 words.

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2019 Stanley Cup Final Preview

2019 Stanley Cup playoffs

For two-plus rounds the San Jose Sharks were the story of the 2019 playoffs. The Sharks were certainly a serious contender despite suffering several key injuries during their quest. However, what San Jose will be remembered for most during this postseason is helping rewrite the NHL yearbook. The Sharks caught break after crazy break, including a hand-of-god play in overtime of Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals that gave San Jose a 2-1 series lead against the St. Louis Blues.

Amazingly, that would be the last game San Jose would win. St. Louis added another painful chapter to the Sharks’ playoff history by winning the next three games to return the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 49 years. This Blues team, which sat in last place on Jan. 3, is hardly a fluke. After posting the best record in the NHL in the second half of the season, St. Louis discovered yet another level at the end of its series with San Jose.

The Blues’ finals opponent just happens to be the same team they played back in the spring of 1970—the Boston Bruins. The same Bruins that years ago swept the upstart Blues and won on arguably the most famous goal in NHL history, Bobby Orr’s flying through the air overtime winner.

Boston, six years removed from its last Final appearance, will again be a favorite against the Blues after whipping around upstart Carolina like a ragdoll in a four-game Conference finals sweep. However, the time around the margins should prove to be extremely tight, with little separating either team. I think St. Louis will match up even better with Boston than San Jose, who I picked to reach to the finals and face off against the Bruins.

Stanley Cup Final Preview

Boston Bruins (First Round: Defeated Toronto 4-3; Second Round: Defeated Columbus 4-2; Third Round: Defeated Carolina 4-0)
vs. St. Louis Blues (First Round: Defeated Winnipeg 4-2; Second Round: Defeated Dallas 4-3; Third Round: Defeated San Jose 4-2)

The Bruins are playing their best hockey of the season, even better than during their 19-game unbeaten streak at the beginning of 2019. Goaltender Tuukka Rask (12-5-0, 1.84 goals against average, .942 save percentage) is extremely locked in, and the clear leader for the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoffs’ most valuable player. Rask, who got hot toward the end of round one against Toronto, has allowed a remarkable total of just one goal in the three clinching games for the Bruins, earning two shutouts. After a slow start against Columbus in the second round, Boston’s top line is now hitting on all cylinders. Patrice Bergeron (team-leading eight playoff goals), David Pastrnak (15 points) and Brad Marchard (team-leading 18 points) dominated Carolina. The trio provided the exclamation point on the Eastern Conference Final, scoring all four goals in Boston’s 4-0 clinching Game 4 win. The Bruins’ forward depth, including trade deadline acquisitions Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson, and defense led by Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy, have been nearly as good as the top line.

If there is a concern for the Bruins, it would be one of two: first, captain Zdeno Chara missed Game 4 against Carolina due to injury (he is expected to be at full strength). Second, Boston had a massive layoff after knocking out Carolina on May 16—11 days before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Winning a Cup for veteran David Backes, a former captain and longtime member of the Blues, might be enough to engage the rusty Bruins right away on Monday night.

Much like Boston, St. Louis is peaking at the right time. The Blues played great hockey on a tough road to the Conference Final, but found another gear against the Sharks after Erik Karlsson’s hand-aided overtime winner in Game 3 marked the turning point. St. Louis allowed just two goals from that point forward, winning three games in dominating fashion with rookie goaltending sensation Jordan Binnington (12-7-0, 2.36 G.A.A., .914 S.P.) leading the way. The extremely deep Blues utilized players like Tyler Bozak, Oskar Sundqvist and hometown hero Patrick Maroon in knocking off Winnipeg and Dallas in the first two rounds. Their stars started to shine against San Jose. Sniper Vladimir Tarasenko now has eight goals and 13 points in the postseason. Ryan O’Reilly has 14. The Blues’ offensive catalyst is Jaden Schwartz, a talented 26-year-old who bounced back from an 11-goal regular season to lead the Blues with 12 goals and 16 points. Even with Tarasenko, O’Reilly and Schwartz all playing well, St. Louis’ strength remains its blue line. The Blues’ top six of Alex Pietrangelo (14 points), Colton Parayko, Joel Edmundson, Jay Bouwmeester, Vince Dunn and Robert Bortuzzo are all terrific. At times they absolutely stifled the Sharks, Stars and Jets.

This should be a terrific final round. Little separates the two teams. Boston has a slight edge as far as top-end talent up front and in goal. St. Louis has a slight edge as far as top-end talent on its blue line and in its overall size and physical play. Each team has solid depth and a fourth line playing great. Each team is battle-tested after tough roads to the finals. The only clear edge in the Stanley Cup Finals is experience: Boston’s core is making its third finals appearance in eight years, while this is St. Louis’ first trip in 49 years. That is the edge that I think will make the difference as Boston will win the Stanley Cup in seven exciting but exhausting games.

2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Finals Preview

2019 Stanley Cup playoffs

The 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs are setting up to have few rivals as far as unpredictability and tight match-ups.

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Division Finals Preview

2019 Stanley Cup playoffs

Remember those fearless predictions about the Stanley Cup playoffs I made about the Stanley Cup playoffs, just two weeks ago? That bracket might as well get tossed through the shredder. The top seeds in both conferences, Tampa Bay and Calgary, won exactly one first-round game between them. All four division winners, including last year’s Stanley Cup champion Washington and perennial contender Nashville, are out. Pittsburgh, Winnipeg and Vegas, all contenders with recent long playoff runs, are no longer alive.

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Frozen Four preview: Welcome back to Buffalo

After 16 years, the Frozen Four is finally returning to Buffalo.

Some might say it’s been far too long for college hockey’s main event to return to upstate New York.

Minnesota fans, who I’m sure have fond memories of the city, probably feel the same way. After all, the Golden Gophers won their second straight national championship in Buffalo back in 2003. However, Minnesota won’t be returning this week. It ended up getting bounced in the Big Ten Tournament last month and missed the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs preview

2019 Stanley Cup playoffs

After an 82-game National Hockey League (NHL) regular season, one team stands alone as the clear favorite to win the Stanley Cup: the record-tying Tampa Bay Lightning, who finished with 62 wins and ran away with the Presidents’ Trophy.

Fortunately or unfortunately, two of the Lightning’s biggest rivals, Boston and Toronto, will face each other in the first round. In the Metropolitan Division five teams separated by just six points all made the postseason, including the defending champion Washington Capitals. The Capitals are a dangerous squad again this year, as are the Pittsburgh Penguins, who won the Cup in 2016 and 2017.

In the West, the defending conference champion Vegas Golden Knights lost a bit of luster after their incredible ride one year ago. Strong arguments can be made for six of the eight squads — Calgary, San Jose, Nashville, Winnipeg and St. Louis, as well as the Golden Knights, to emerge and reach the Finals.

Despite the balance out West, the 2019 Stanley Cup is Tampa Bay’s to lose. However, if something goes wrong along the way for the Lightning this postseason, there are plenty of teams ready to swoop in to stake their claim for hockey’s Holy Grail.

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NCAA hockey preview: It’s going to be a wild season

NCAA men's ice hockey

It’s that time of year again.

The puck dropped on the college hockey season this weekend. After months of waiting, I can say that it’s about time.

I’m guessing that those of you still reading my hockey columns after all these years are probably thinking along the same lines. I didn’t write a season preview last year. I got too bogged down with things at work and by the time I found some free time, the season was two weeks in and I felt like dispensing my predictions at that point would be kind of pointless.

However, this year I decided to do it – and that was due to popular demand. Family members, relatives and friends have wondered why I don’t write as much for this site anymore. The primary reason is that life has gotten a little crazy, especially with my wife going back to school full-time. When I went back to Minneapolis a couple weeks ago, some people told me that I needed to get back to writing this stuff on a regular basis and that they look forward to reading them. After hearing that, I realized that I needed to do it again this year. I’m glad I did.

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31 NHL Team Previews in 31 Words or Less

Steven Stamkos

Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning look up to no one in 2018-19.

2017-18 saw the long awaited coronation of Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, as well as the amazing breakout success of the Vegas Golden Knights. 2018-19 promises to be another terrific season, with several teams primed to take a run at the Cup. Here are my predictions for all 31 NHL teams this season, in just 31 words or less!

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Memo to hockey players: it’s okay to use the word ‘I.’

ESPN.com’s Emily Kaplan wrote a fascinating story today about a linguistic quirk among hockey players: how they never refer to themselves in the first person in interviews. It’s a quick read, do yourself a favor and go check it out.

I’ve observed this quirk myself over the years, but never taken time to ask players about it. Kaplan’s piece left one of my longstanding questions unanswered, too.

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