I know you are sad this morning. The Super Bowl was awful last night, the commercials were mediocre (The Doritos one was my favorite) and worst of all one of the few good actors in Philip Seymour Hoffman is dead. These are troubling times.
Even worse for us as sports fans is now we are staring down the black hole of February which in terms of football only provides us with signing day and a bunch of guys running around in shorts at the combine. The only respite is that moment when some guy you know is terrible at football tests off the charts and in that moment you know exactly who the Raiders will draft and it is a brief moment of comedy in an otherwise dark and dreary world. (Sorry Calabrese)
You can try and convince yourself that the regular season basketball or hockey game you are watching is significant but these are just lies you tell yourself as you try and fabricate the emotion that March Madness and the playoffs will give you in the coming weeks and months.
February is also that time that the world’s worst holiday of Valentine’s Day rears its ugly God forsaken head. Those of you in a relationship have to try and come up with some new way to say I love you and buy a gift which is good enough so your significant other won’t hate you but you can’t make it too good because you need to save that shit for an actually important day down the road. Its no different than regular season sports in that way. You need to get in the playoffs but you don’t want to show everything you have got before you get in.
Meanwhile us single folk have to pretend we don’t care about Valentines Day and we enjoy being single but we will end up on Friday February 14th at home wrapped in a blanket, crying all while eating cookie dough and listening to Adele wondering where it all went wrong. (Sidenote, it doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day to do this, you can do it anytime, it feels great. Cleanse the soul) No one normally enjoys February.
Fear not my friends for this year will be different, this year we have Olympic hockey. The 2014 Winter Olympics kick off in Sochi, Russia on Friday and the best part of the games, hockey starts next Wednesday the 12th.
For those of you who don’t follow hockey regularly it is a great way to see the best that hockey has to offer which includes National Pride and playoff level hockey. The Olympics tournament has 12 teams, six of which are basically all star teams and these guys compete as if they were trying to raise Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The best part is team USA can actually win gold. While it won’t be the favorite to win (Canada, Russia, Sweden) the US team certainly made a name for itself in Vancouver in 2010 going 3-0 in group stage and making it all the way to final before losing in overtime. Just a quick refresher moments from those Olympics include Ryan Kesler’s best empty net goal ever…
Just listen to Doc’s call on that! My God. And of course Zach Parise’s game tier in the gold medal game against Canada…
You won’t get that type of intensity for a Wild-Canucks game in February from those two guys.
Now before we get all emotional and start USA chants in our offices there are a few things that must be addressed. You have probably heard that there are serious security concerns in Sochi. All of the fun things I just talked about go away if something serious happens and we will just have to deal with that comes to pass. I think it is clear that the Olympics should have never gone to Sochi but no turning back now. (Altho Jagr would tell you there are no concerns.)
In terms of the hockey while America has had some recent success winning silver in 2002 and 2010, the US team has not medaled away from North American soil since the 1972 Olympics in Japan. They finished runner up to the USSR in those Olympics.
This brings me to my second hockey concern in that the games will be on a bigger sized Olympic style hockey rink as opposed to the NHL rink these players they normally play on. This has never been kind to American teams that are obviously built from the ground up playing on NHL sized rinks. The problem for the US is they are in a group with three Eastern Euro teams that includes the home team Russia. There is no guarantee of a US/Canada battle and we will have to make due with our dear old rivals from Russia.
Now the other bad news is all three of the US’s games are on at 730 AM EST. For some of you this will be impossible to either be awake for or be able to watch since you are at work. Good news here is you live in 2014 so you can set that DVR to record and you can download the NBCSN app to watch while at work.
The USA/Russia game in on Saturday February 15th, the morning after Valentine’s Day so remember if things don’t go your way, just make sure to set the DVR, pour that Bloody Mary and drink up because this February will be a little bit more tolerable than usual.
Other NHL Notes
1. Unofficial Trade deadline is Friday: Because of the Olympics we have a weird double trade deadline as the GM’s can’t make any moves for two weeks. It will be interesting to see who makes any moves.
2. Datsyuk may not be ready for Sochi: It would be a big blow to Russia to lose their captain but I bet he plays just not at his normal level. (Which means he will still be pretty good)
4. Ben Scrivens stopped 59 shots: He has somehow been traded twice in one year but should be able to land a nice contract this offseason.
5. There will be four outdoor games next year: Sounds like the Wings/Avs are Coors field is a real possibility. I hope they televise the Alumni game because that is what everyone will want to watch.
6. This week in fancy stats: Shot differential is important. I feel like this is stated in every fancy stats article.
7. History of the glowing puck: I look forward to when FOX adds the “glowing golf ball” to its US Open next year
Week in Review
Game of the Week
Hot team: Winnipeg Jets are 8-2 since hiring Paul Maurice
Not so much team: NY Islanders have lost 5 in a row and continue to slip back to nothingness
Big Games this week
Monday: Avs at Devils 730pm NBCSN
Tuesday: Canucks at Bruins 7pm, welcome back Torts
Wednesday: Blackhawks at Ducks 10pm WGN
Thursday: Bruins at Blues 8pm NBCSN
Friday: Rangers at Pens 7pm NBCSN
Saturday: Canucks at Leafs 6pm NHLN
1. 2-1 this week with the lone loss at PHX on Saturday. Pens showed off their Power Play in LA on Thursday night…
2. Dont expect a Pens trade prior to the Olympics: Taking it nice and slow
3. How the goals are scored: Crosby line vs Geno line
4. This week: Ott, @Buf, NYR