Stacking the Pads

Just the tip of the goalie news iceberg

30 August 2006

Euro Tour, Part 1

There's an unofficial European Championship that takes place each season. It's called the Euro Tour and is comprised of four competitions between Sweden, Finland, Russia and the Czech Republic. After all four tournaments are played, the 1st and 2nd ranked teams will play for the gold and silver medals, and teams 3 and 4 will play for the bronze. The first tournament, the Ceska Pojistovna Cup, starts tomorrow (August 31st) and will be played in the Czech Republic and Sweden. The schedule is as follows... and check back in this post for updates on scores.

8/31 (update)
Of note: Game decided by shootout. Jan Marek, NYR prospect, scored the game tying goal for the Czechs.

Of note: Game decided by shootout.

9/2 (update)
Of note: Big brawl in the 3rd period, with 4 Finns and 3 Russians handed rouging minors.

Of note: Jan Marek does it again, tying the score at 2, but it's not enough. The Swedes score 2 goals in the last 6 minutes to finish it out at 4-2.


Of note: Marek gets another goal.

29 August 2006

Another hockey freak

If you want more information about the state of Swedish hockey (and other various things), please visit HockeyFreak's blog . You'll have to pardon the fact that she is a Djurgården fan.... some people just don't know any better. ;)

Blame it all on Ulf Dahlen

My Swedish obsession, that is. Henrik Lundqvist, bless his frighteningly talented heart, is not the first "rookie from Sweden" to capture my attention. No, that distinction belongs to former Ranger (and former Capital, former Shark, and former NorthStar/Star...) Ulf Dahlen. I'm blowing a lot of dust off the old memory banks to write this entry, but it seems to me that I was captivated by his talent and enthusiasm. The man was always grinning. (Think of a Nordic Petr Prucha). Of course the fact that I was about 15 virtually guaranteed the fact that I would have a stupid teenage crush on him. But that aside.... I followed him after he was traded to Minnesota, at that time still the NorthStars. Of course, when I went into hockey oblivion and the Rangers had their best season, he also had several fantastic seasons. Figures.

Anyway, I was then the type of person I still am now; fascinated with learning about other countries and cultures, and I developed sort of a fondness for Sweden. Combine that with my soft spot for goalies, and my ears perked up at the beginning of last season when I heard about the Rangers new backup goalie, Henrik Lundqvist. We all know how that story ended, King Henrik rides into New York City on a white horse and sweeps the entire Garden off their feet and has them chanting his name in a few short weeks, igniting hope of playoff games to come, if we dared hope that much, snatching up an Olympic gold medal on his way..... until he was a complete idiot and waited several days to reveal that he was hurt and it was bye bye season, bye bye Rangers....

Oops. Sorry about the rant. Naturally, my curious nature lead me to read about his career in Sweden, which in turn lead to the discovery that his twin brother was still playing over there. Around the same time, I struck up an online friendship with a woman from Sweden who is also a big hockey fan, and before I knew it, I was logging on to the Elitserien website each day to look for scores and try to pick apart articles, which is really quite difficult without a Swedish dictionary. Of course I followed Frölunda, but because my new friend Ina was an HV71 fan, I had half an eye on them as well.

Funny how things come full circle. My first hockey favorite, Ulf Dahlen, has taken an assistant coaching job with the Dallas Stars. Now, there's no guarantee he'll make the team, but there could be a new "rookie from Sweden" for Dahlen to pass the torch to this year: Joel Lundqvist.

12 August 2006

Not a great start for my Swedish buddies

With the Nordic Trophy underway, Frölunda has played two games so far and lost both of them. At least yesterday's 5-4 loss wasn't as bad as Wednesday's 9-0 spanking. Damn language barrier, I wish I could read some articles and know more about what's going on!

09 August 2006

In case anyone's curious...

Scores from today's Nordic Trophy games:

4 Färjestad

3 Djurgården

Well it's about time

The waiting is over for Manny Legace- he finally got a date to the prom, and this year the prom is in St. Louis. It has baffled me all summer that he was unclaimed for this long. He had a banner year, hitting career highs in games played (51), wins (37), and shutouts (7), with a 2.19 GAA and .915 save percentage. Somehow he ended up with the blame for Detroit's disappointing first-round exit from the playoffs placed squarely on his shoulders, and it wasn't just his former team who wasn't biting, he wasn't getting calls from anyone.

The press says he'll battle Curtis Sanford (13-13-5) and Jason Bacashihua (4-10-1) for the number one spot in St. Louis, but really, how much of a battle can it be? Unless he's utterly deflated from the playoffs and the fallout thereafter, it seems like a no-brainer to me.

08 August 2006

Land(s) of the midnight sun get an early start

Hockey is underway already in Finland and Sweden, with the newly organized "Nordic Trophy" tournament. This tournament was initiated by 8 elite professional clubs ostensibly to drum up interest in pre-season hockey and/or bring the two countries' top leagues closer with a little friendly competition. The teams involved are:

Kärpät Oulu
TPS Turku

Djurgårdens IF
Frölunda HC
Färjestads BK
Linköpings HC

Today's games featured Tappara vs Djurgårdens and Kärpät vs Färjestads. Much to Swedish hockey fans' chagrin, both Finnish clubs won. (With scores of 6-1 and 4-1, respectively).

05 August 2006

Is this thing on?

As you can see, I didn't keep up with the free agent signings like I said I would. It all became a little overwhelming. I've been on vacation, figuratively and literally, but now I'm back.

(Edited to add: I couldn't help myself... I went back and updated the goalie status in my free agent post. Carry on...)

While I was away, Detroit signed Dominik Hasek. While I revere the man for what he's brought to the game, I really think it's time for him to pack it in. For real this time. And Detroit needs to stop scapegoating their netminder for their post-season flop- it wasn't only in goal where they fell apart. That said, I do hope he has a great season with them.

The other bit of goalie news to catch my eye this week was Mika Noronen (formerly of the Vancouver Canucks, formerly of the goalie-glutted Buffalo Sabres) signing with Russian League team Ak Bars Kazan. I can't really say why I like Noronen, but it's probably that whole underdog thing- in Buffalo he was 3rd fiddle but deserving of a bigger role, if he wasn't stuck in Biron's and Miller's shadows. Though I didn't follow the Russian league as closely as I did the Swedish league last season, I do plan to keep my eye on them this year, Ak Bars in particular. Noronen will get much more playing time over there (40-ish games compared to the 10 or so games, crumbs from Luongo's table). What remains to be seen now is who will fill the backup role behind Luongo. Canucks fans on HFboards have been bickering about it for days... just as Devils fans are bickering about the rumors of Mike Dunham replacing Scott Clemmensen.

Ah, the fun of the off-season. I sure as heck couldn't have guessed Hasek would be back in Detroit and Belfour would be in Florida by summer's end.