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One day into the “second half” of the NHL season, Connor McDavid reminded us why he was the number one pick last summer by shredding the Columbus Blue Jackets defense for a beautiful breakaway goal. Thanks, Connor.
Editor’s note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part series following the Northern Michigan University hockey team to the Great Lakes Invitational.
After three days’ worth of practices, game day for Northern Michigan University arrived on a Tuesday. The Wildcats fit in another short practice late that morning to try and tweak any remaining issues. When it was time to go back to Joe Louis Arena just before 5 p.m., I could feel things change. The team was still a little loose during the morning skate; now the Wildcats were all business. When they arrived at JLA, most of the guys stretched, while others fixed their equipment, rode the exercise bike and got taped by the trainers. Starting goalie Atte Tolvanen went through a much different routine.
Editor’s note: This is Part 1 of a 2-part series following the Northern Michigan University hockey team to the Great Lakes Invitational.
The bus I’m sitting on is warm, but it’s getting colder outside. I can see the players’ breath as they load their gear into the compartments of the bus. It makes me glad that I didn’t linger boarding this thing. As I sit on the bus, I start to get nervous. I rarely get nervous at my job anymore, but this would be a new experience as I was attempting to do something that no sports writer in the Upper Peninsula, and possibly college hockey, had done before. I just hoped that people would enjoy it.
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An elite hockey player’s reflexes are often difficult to appreciate in real time. They’re tough to replicate in the All-Star skills competition. Today, though, they were laid bare when Claude Giroux scored a goal in the second period tonight in San Jose.
Giroux scored from the faceoff circle when the referee dropped the puck and the Philadelphia Flyers forward snapped off a puck with plenty of English on it, fooling Martin Jones. Check it out:
Credit the official with an assist for putting the puck right where Giroux was looking for it.
It’s early on a Friday night, but the Ralph Engelstad Arena is already rocking. Just minutes before the puck drops at center ice, the lights go down in the arena and the cheering somehow manages to get louder. The players gather in the tunnel and slowly emerge from the shadows as they approach the ice.
The PA announcer bellows from the rafters. “Here come your Fightiiiiiiing Hawks!”
Sigh. It’s just not the same.
There’s a reason that Danny DeVito is starring in a series of coffee commercials alongside George Clooney these days. Someone once let a 5-foot tall man into Hollywood and we kept laughing, laughing, laughing. First there was Taxi, then Twins, then Batman Returns, then It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, to the point where a couple years ago this real-life penguin had enough power and status in town that he was able to sleep around with enough women to force his wife to file for separation rather than passively tolerate his philandering. And, yes, he makes George Clooney seem like the dashing leading man he is when the two sip a cup of Nespresso side-by-side — as if Danny DeVito was needed to propagate that image of Clooney.
In Hollywood, DeVito is somewhere between a talent and a novelty act, not quite enough of one to elude the other label.
So it is with John Scott.
Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler went undercover during a preseason game at Honda Center, and had some fun at the expense of some fans — and even a teammate. (He gets Corey Perry’s autograph at a concession stand, then charges him for popcorn.)
Check out the video, which the Ducks uploaded to YouTube today:
With the summer temperatures still going strong, it might not seem like hockey season yet, but here we are. Time to make room on a shelf full of high school and college football for my favorite sport. Without further ado, here’s my 2015-16 college hockey preview.
Just four years ago, the Frozen Four was in Tampa for the first time. This year, it’s back. Last time, Boston College won its fifth national title, its third in five years, and the Eagles are No. 1 to start this season. It may seem like the Eagles are destined to win title No. 6, but that’s not the case. Even though the Eastern schools have been the teams to beat the last few years, winning the last four titles, the west is starting to gain some ground again and that’s where I’ll start off.
For the third time in six years, Chicago begins a season as the defending champion. This time, the Blackhawks are in their best position ever to repeat. Chicago’s most likely challenger is Anaheim, which underwent a serious off-season overhaul after falling one win short of the 2015 Final. Helping the Ducks is the team’s station as the best in the Pacific Division, which is surprisingly the weakest in the league.
Overall, the parity-based NHL suffers from a serious imbalance in both conferences. The Central and Metropolitan divisions are far stronger top to bottom than either the Atlantic or the Pacific. A team with a better record (a sixth-place team, likely in the Central) might be left out of the postseason in favor of a third-place team with a weaker record.
How will 2015-16 shake out? Here is my 30-team season preview, broken down in 30 words or less:
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Hockey is back.
There are old faces in new places (Mike Babcock and Lou Lamoriello in Toronto). There are new faces in old places (Slava Voynov in Russia). Jaromir Jagr is still employed in the NHL, joining Chris Chelios and Gordie Howe as a rare “once in a couple different generations” player.
Already a treasure trove of storylines have emerged, with more on the way. Here are eight to whet your appetite for the upcoming season: