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69 posts categorized "NHL"

January 08, 2013


PHERSY: Well, it's been what, like two years since we've done one of these things ... so Feldy and I got off our rear-ends and decided to tape a show tonight.

We plan to make this a far more regular feature here at Faceoff. Now, with a few of the changes at the P-B, it sounds like we'll have more time for "fun" stuff like this.

So, our lone reader ... enjoy!

This week, we wrap up the Vikings season, we talk about the Wild and the upcoming NHL season, and then Feldy talks high school hockey, and I talk about the Rochester Ice Hawks.


October 13, 2011

Pro Hockey | Good start for Stuarts

Posted by: Feldman

Some NHL teams have already played four or five games.

The Winnipeg Jets have played one.

Come on, NHL! Fans in The Peg have been dying to have NHL hockey of their own for a decade and a half and they get just four of their first 15 games at home?! Ah well, I think Jets fans are OK with that, or, at least they will be when they have a stretch of 13 out of 15 games at home between Nov. 29-Dec. 31.

Plus, they opened their inaugural (can we call it that? I'm going to) season at home on Sunday, and Rochester native Mark Stuart, a d-man for the Jets, became a part of history/answer to a trivia question. Stuart assisted on the Jets' first goal, their only goal of the game, in a 5-1 loss to Montreal.

Stuart's point shot was stopped by Carey Price, but Nik Antropov buried the rebound. (By the way, if you're looking ahead, Stuart and the Jets make their only trip to the Xcel Center on Thursday, Feb. 16, to face the Wild in a 7 p.m. game).

The Jets play their second game of the season tonight at Chicago at 7:30 p.m. It will be the first time that Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, a Winnipeg native, gets to play against the Jets. It will also mark a return to Chicago for Roseau native Dustin Byfuglien, a key member of the Blackhawks' run to the Stanley Cup two years ago. Byfuglien participated in Shjon Podein's charity golf tournament at Somerby in Byron this past summer. He's a very laid-back guy off the ice, great to talk to and spent seemingly more time posing for pictures and signing autographs than he did playing golf.

• Another Stuart, Mark's brother, Colin, had a good start to his season with the Rochester (N.Y.) Americans, the AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres. Colin scored one of the Americans' two goals in a 5-2 season-opening loss to Hamilton on Saturday. He also led the team with eight shots on goal, so clearly he's being looked at by the coaches as a guy they need to count on for scoring.

Also, if you click on the link I provided in the previous paragraph, it takes you to the box score of the Rochester-Hamilton game. Notice who the backup goalie is for the Americans? Former Mayo standout Jeff Jakaitis.

It actually looked late last week like Jakaitis might start the Americans' opener. He didn't, but the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle did a short piece on his hockey travels, and briefly mentions that he and Stuart are both from another Rochester.

Rochester plays its second game of the season, its home opener, at 6:05 p.m. Central Time tonight, against the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.

October 06, 2011

NHL | Happy Hockey Season, everyone

FELDY: Since the NFL season is over, Phersy and I couldn't be happier that the NHL begins its for-real games tonight. And, even though Phersy said he was done with college hockey after the breakup of the current WCHA was announced, I think he's pumped that the college season begins this weekend. I'll be in NoDak watching the Sioux (yes, I can still call them that ... for now) play in the Ice Breaker against Michigan State, B.C. and Air Force (with Austin's Tim Kirby). We'll try to get our WCHA predictions up later today, but I thought I'd start with my NHL predictions for the season and Phersy can add his if he can get his lazy butt around to it.

The good news is, by next June, most of you, as well as me and Phersy, will forget about these. So, if you want to know which teams not put money on, read on:

15. Florida: Can Theodore handle being the No. 1 goalie for 82 games?
14. Ottawa: Sens were second-to-last in scoring in NHL last season.
13. N.Y. Islanders: Questions in goal: Can Al Montoya continue to play like he did late last year? Will Rick DiPietro fulfill the expectations of his lengthy contract?
12. Winnipeg: The team's re-location from Atlanta doesn't change the fact that, for years, they traded or allowed many of their star players to leave as free agents.
11. Toronto: James Reimer could be a franchise goalie. J-M Liles a nice addition, still need help at center.
10. Carolina: Need more than just Eric Staal and Cam Ward. Can Jeff Skinner elevate his game even more?
9. New Jersey: Best second-half team in NHL last year. A better start to this season could make Devils a playoff contender.
8. N.Y. Rangers: Have an elite goalie (Lundqvist), an up-and-coming blue line and added a dynamic center (Brad Richards).
7. Montreal: Canadiens keep finding ways to make playoffs without a ton of star power.
6. Philadelphia: I only have Flyers this low because of offseason losses (Mike Richards, Jeff Carter). Will be fun to see how Jaromir Jagr does in his return to NHL.
5. Tampa Bay: Stamkos, St. Louis and Lecavalier are nice players to build around, but how long will 42-year-old Dwayne Roloson hold up?
4. Buffalo: When you have Ryan Miller in goal, you should always be in the postseason.
3. Pittsburgh: Even with Sid the Kid out, the Penguins are extremely talented.
2. Boston: Cup champs didn't change much.
1. Washington: Caps are kings of the regular season.
15. Phoenix: Ilya Bryzgalov is gone, so are Ed Jovanovski and Scottie Upshall. This season is a big test for coach Dave Tippett.
14. Dallas: Stars didn't adequately replace Brad Richards, who bolted when free agency opened.
13. Edmonton: Some young, extremely talented players should help keep the Oilers out of the basement.
12. Columbus: Jackets made a couple of nice off-season additions, but G Steve Mason has had two consecutive sub-par years.
11. Calgary: Flames could be a playoff team if Miikka Kiprusoff exceeds expectations.
10. Colorado: Avs losses were greater than their gains in the offseason.
9. Minnesota: Wild are on the verge of something good, but the West is stacked.
8. St. Louis: Blues were hit hard by injuries last season. That can't happen again.
7. Nashville: Coach Barry Trotz always seems to get best out of his team, and G Pekka Rinne was sensational at times in the playoffs last season.
6. Anaheim: The Getzlaf-Perry-Ryan trio is one that fans of every other team should be jealous of. Or maybe I'm just saying that 'cuz I'm a Wild fan. And jealous.
5. Los Angeles: G Jonathan Quick could be a Vezina contender, and Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson are a heck of duo to build a defensive corps around.
4. Detroit: Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Lidstrom are still game-changers.
3. San Jose: Sharks are counting on Havlat being the dynamic player he was in Chicago, not the player he was in Minnesota.
2. Chicago: How's this for a core group of five: Toews, Kane, Sharp, Keith, Seabrook. G Corey Crawford will be the key to Blackhawks success/failure.
1. Vancouver: Despite the loss in the Stanley Cup finals, Canucks still have too much fire power for the rest of the West. Battle between Luongo and Schneider in goal will be one to watch.
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: Chicago over Vancouver.
STANLEY CUP FINALS: Chicago over Boston.

August 18, 2011

Hockey | Playing catch-up, part I

Posted by: Feldman

Amazing what can pile up when you're on vacation for a bit (Phersy should know what this feels like, since he's always on a vacation).

Here are a few notes to toss out there for now, and I'll have a post on the Lourdes boys hockey team's summer practices a little later tonight. I went over and talked to coach Josh Spaniol during their final week of summer workouts in late July. I didn't get around to posting anything, as I was waiting to hear how a couple of their players did in Junior tryout camps (not that any of them anticipated leaving high school, but I was waiting to see how they fared at those camps).

So, for some notes:

• Former Rochester Century standout d-man Connor Faupel will play for Neepawa of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League this coming season. It's a nice move for Faupel, who passed up his senior season at Century to play for the Russell Stover midget program in Kansas City. I'll put in a call to Faupel tonight and hopefully find out more about his decision.

From what I'm told, he had the chance to go to three or four other places, including another team in the MJHL (which is a Tier II league in Canada), and to Helena, which won the USA Hockey Junior A, Tier III, national championship here in Rochester back in April. Faupel leaves for Neepawa on Tuesday. Neepawa is about 45 miles northeast of Brandon, Manitoba, or about 130 miles west of Winnipeg.

• Former Rochester Mayo forward Charlie Thauwald has become the most recent Rochester native to commit to a Division I hockey program. Thauwald made it official with Minnesota State, Mankato, last week. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Thauwald could make an immediate physical impact for the Mavericks. He'll be the biggest player on the team (along with LaCrescent's Eriah Hayes, who goes 6-4, 210) and the second member of his family to play D-I hockey (his brother, Scott, played at Colorado College and now plays professionally in Australia).

Charlie left Mayo before his senior season to play with Chicago of the USHL. After suffering an injury there, he played part of the 2009-10 season with Owatonna of the NAHL. Last season, he was a key member of the Fairbanks Ice Dogs' run to the NAHL (Robertson Cup) championship, along with Lourdes grads Tyler Voigt and Pete Spratte.

• The University of Maine has posted its men's hockey roster, and former Mayo defenseman Bill Norman will wear No. 12 for the Black Bears. Norman is listed at 5-feet-9, 160 pounds, so he'll have to use his speed and hockey sense — like he did at Mayo last season — to have an impact in Hockey East this year. The closest Maine comes to Minnesota this season is a two-game series at North Dakota, Oct. 14 and 15.

• Another former Century standout, goalie Alex Kangas, is officially a free agent. He wasn't signed by the team that drafted him — Winnipeg (actually drafted by Atlanta, of course, in 2006) — by Monday, so he's free to sign with another NHL team, or go overseas, if he chooses.

• Rochester native Colin Stuart re-signed with the Buffalo Sabres organization last month. Stuart reportedly signed a one-year, two-way deal, which will pay him $525,000 if he sticks in the NHL, or less if he plays with Buffalo's AHL affiliate in Portland, Maine. Stuart had 16 goals and 28 assists in 72 regular season games with Portland last season. He added three goals and four assists in 12 playoff games. He also played in three games for the Sabres, with no points and two penalty minutes.

• As Phersy noted in a previous post, the Rochester Ice Hawks are holding their final tryout camp this weekend, beginning tomorrow (Friday) and running through Sunday. They jump right into training camp on Monday.

July 06, 2011

Hockey | Hayes back at Blackhawks camp

Posted by: Feldman

For a second consecutive summer, La Crescent native Eriah Hayes has been invited to the Chicago Blackhawks' prospect camp.

Hayes has been invited as a free agent. The camp in no way affects his college eligibility; he has not signed a contract with any pro team. These camps serve as a way for NHL teams to get a look at their recent draft picks and potential free agents.

Hayes played in all 38 games and was the third-leading scorer for Minnesota State, Mankato, last season, with 22 points (11 goals and 11 assists). Hayes, 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, had 240 points in his high school career for the Lancers. He then played two seasons of junior hockey, including one with Waterloo of the USHL, before moving on to MSUM.

The camp begins Thursday and runs through Monday. It is being held at Johnny's Ice House in Chicago. Four of Chicago's first-round draft picks will be at the camp — Mark McNeill and Phillip Danault (2011), Kevin Hayes (2010) and Dylan Olsen (2009). Olsen, you might remember, played a season-and-a-half for Minnesota-Duluth, leaving the Bulldogs at Christmastime this past season and missing out on their national championship run.

Eriah Hayes' MSUM teammate of the past two years, Ben Youds, will also be at the Blackhawks' camp. Youds was a senior defenseman for the Mavericks last season. He had 11 goals and 56 assists in his four seasons with the Mavs.

Here is the complete roster for the Blackhawks' prospect camp.



July 03, 2011

NHL | Wild wise to stay out of free agent frenzy

FELDY: It's amazing what honesty from a general manager can do for a fan base.

Wild GM Chuck Fletcher hasn't attempted to deny that the Wild are in all-out rebuild mode. Or, as Fletcher calls it, "building, not rebuilding." He's right; how can we call this rebuilding? There's nothing to re-build from.

Maybe it's that Wild fans have simply become apathetic. They've watched this team try to do two things at once — stockpile young talent through the draft while signing overpriced veterans in free agency to attempt to keep the team competitive — for too long now. Finally, Fletcher has realized (or admitted) that philosophy won't work.

In fact, I (like many Wild fans, apparently) was surprised at how open and honest Fletcher was about wanting to take this team in a new direction. At the draft on June 24, I had about five paragraphs of a story written about how Fletcher is turning the Wild into a young, young team, even if he won't admit it. I had to highlight-delete those grafs when Fletcher talked openly about it at his press conference that night.

So, here comes the full-blown youth movement. And most fans seem fine with it, though, what other choice do they have? These fans have been paying good money for the past four or five years to watch a medicore-at-best product. They've been beaten into near-submission with lost season after lost season.

And, now that Fletcher has finally decided to move this franchise in a completely different direction than it's ever been taken, fans seem willing to accept another couple of years of building.

As it is, the 2011-12 Wild just might be a better team than the 2010-11 Wild. Certainly, they will not replace Brent Burns' offensive production on the blueline. But, that's the one position where they actually have some depth in the organization, and there is some young talent waiting, such as Marco Scandella, Nate Prosser and Justin Falk (as well as this year's first-round pick, Jonas Brodin, who might not be ready until three years down the road, but he's already an elite skater).

The addition of Devin Setoguchi can only help this lineup. Putting him on one side of Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard on the other will give the Wild a top line that's fun to watch, if nothing else. Forward Darroll Powe was a nice acquisiton, too, as the Wild had to give up just a third-round pick in 2013 for the 26-year-old. He's a physical player who could challenge Cal Clutterbuck for the team lead in hits.

While we can see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as defense is concerned (the team's best blue-line prospects are about ready to take their shots at playing with the big boys), it'll be a few years yet before the team's best forward prospects are in the same position. Three guys from last year's draft — Mikael Granlund, Jason Zucker and Johan Larsson — are all at least a year, if not two, away from competing for a spot on the NHL club. And guys they acquired during last week's draft — Charlie Coyle, Zack Phillips and Mario Lucia — could be three or four (or more) years out.

I think Wild fans truly believed that Fletcher is committed to this youth movement on Friday, when he refused to jump into the free-agent frenzy that swept the league. Teams were overpaying for players seemingly every minute (six years, $33 mil for James Wisniewski? Really, Columbus? And trading away a first- and a second-round pick for Semyon Varlamov? Really, Colorado? Yikes.).

Sure, Fletcher made some calls, but we're used to seeing Minnesota chase down a handful of free agents and throw $3-4 million per year at them. Friday was one of those days where it felt like the Wild were a winner on the first day of free agency, even though they made no moves.

That's not to say they won't add a veteran defenseman or another forward, but it looks like they'll let the market settle, and go after a second- or third-tier guy to plug a hole for a year or two.

Bottom line: It's about time that Wild fans get to be excited about their team in October, December and March, instead of in June and July.

June 26, 2011

NHL Draft | Mario Lucia interview

Posted by: Feldman


Mario Lucia didn't even hear his name called at Saturday's NHL Draft. The roar from the Wild fans, when, at No. 60, the words "the Wild select, from Wayzata High School ..." covered up the announcement of Lucia's name. Here's the interview he gave to the media after being selected. He addresses his thoughts on being taken by the hometown team, and the pressure that will be placed on him of playing in the Wild organization. He's also asked at one point if he was concerned that he might be taken by GM Garth Snow and the New York Islanders (Snow has, in the past, criticized Lucia's dad, Don, the head coach of the University of Minnesota).

Here's Mario Lucia's interview: M_Lucia0625

NHL Draft | Seth Ambroz interview

Posted by: Feldman

I'm sure it wasn't easy for Seth Ambroz, but after falling from a possible first- or second-round pick, all the way into the fifth round, he addressed the media. He answered questions for about 10 minutes, addressing everything asked of him. The New Prague native was selected No. 128 overall by Columbus. He'll play for the Gophers this fall.

Here's his interview: Ambroz0625

NHL Draft | Steven Fogarty interview

Posted by: Feldman

Edina's Steven Fogarty was the second Minnesotan drafted in this year's NHL Draft. He went to the New York Rangers with the 10th pick of the third round (No. 72 overall). Fogarty said he didn't even plan on attending the draft, initially.

Here's the interview he did with some Minnesota media members and some from New York: Fogarty0625



NHL Draft | Chuck Fletcher interview

Posted by: Feldman

Wild GM Chuck Fletcher addressed the media after Friday's first round of the NHL Draft. He talks primarily about the Brent Burns-for-Devin Setoguchi/Charlie Coyle/Zack Phillips trade, as well as addressing the Wild's first round draft choices.

Here is the Fletcher interview: Fletcher0624