Saturday, 17 February 2018

Morning Hovi Blog In Canada

As you can from the smiles on the faces of the Finnish women in the image to the left, things went pretty well for the Scandinavian nation against their arch-rivals. Finland and Sweden seem to encounter one another in most tournaments, and normally we see Finland and Sweden have pretty close battles. It's becoming more and more clear that the gap is widening between these two nations as Finland flexed their muscles in a 7-2 trouncing of the Swedish women at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.

I'm not here to break down the game, though. Hovi Blog In Canada returns today because our favorite Finnish Olympian, Miss Venla Hovi, played a part in the Finnish victory last night. Venla's offensive skills have never been in question after witnessing her play in the Canada West Conference with the Manitoba Bisons, but she has really grown into a great international player with her home country.

Very early this morning, Venla got things started for the Finns with what has been reported as a gorgeous assist on Petra Niemenen's goal to make the game 1-0 in Finland's favor.
I'd like to post the highlight of her assist, but I haven't been able to find one. In fact, I haven't even been able to see the goal myself as every single video highlight package of this game online seems to not include Niemenen's goal. Yes, I'm a little disappointed with that, but we do know that Venla's efforts were rewarded with her assist today.

As it stands, Venla has recorded one goal and one assist in four games with Team Finland, and their victory today sets them up for a rematch with the Americans who they fell to in the preliminary round 3-1 in the opening game of the tournament for both teams. Not to be too much of a homer, but I'm hoping for a Finland-Canada gold medal final, so you know who I'm pulling for in that game.

Without looking to the future too much, though, congratulations on Venla Hovi! Your adopted home is cheering for you and we're proud of the success you're having and Team Finland is having!

Until next time, pitää tikkuja jäällä!

Friday, 16 February 2018

Let's Get Tropical!

I'll be honest in telling you that I don't follow basketball outside of the top stories that dominate the sports broadcasts. I know about the game as I did play basketball in my high school days, but I just can't get into the NBA for some reason. However, I am a fan of the movie Semi-Pro due to the antics of Will Ferrell, and the somewhat-fictional story of the Flint Tropics is makes me chuckle. It may not be his best work, but the ensemble cast that Will Ferrell is a part of in this movie hits all their lay-ups in a successful effort.

So why am I talking basketball on a hockey blog?

On Saturday night, the OHL's Flint Firebirds are playing in the Flint Mega Bowl wearing these uniforms as the Firebirds get tropical!
Those uniforms are outstanding, and I'm pretty sure Jackie Moon would approve! If they have a player wrestle a bear during an intermission, the Firebirds officially are the greatest junior hockey team in the country without doubt. While the orange wasn't a uniform colour used by the Tropics, it actually doesn't look bad as a hockey uniform colour!

If you notice to the right, the Firebirds replicated the stripe that runs off the shoulder and across the chest, but they added the stripe down the right side for some reason. They also changed the font of the number, and they were forced to re-imagine the location of the palm tree and the word mark on their chests. In a rather solid addition in my view, they threw the palm tree on the breezers which I absolutely love. Overall, it's not an exact replica of what the Tropics wore on the court, but it seems the Firebirds will certainly keep the tropical spirit alive with these uniforms. The only question is whether they'll be giving out free corndogs if the Firebirds hit 125 points against the Saginaw Spirit tomorrow night. My guess is there won't be any free corndogs handed out.

It should be a fun time in Flint, Michigan tomorrow with the Firebirds getting tropical, and I think there should be annual Tropics/Semi-Pro game held by the Firebirds. They could have a lot of fun with this as a key game on their schedule, and it may just draw in a pile of fans who may otherwise opt out of watching OHL hockey. As along as Flint remembers the one rule that the Tropics lived by, they should be ok! Because this isn't just a hockey team, it's a lifestyle!

Until next time, everybody love everybody!

Thursday, 15 February 2018

The Hockey Show - Episode 282

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, returns tonight with a ton of stuff to discuss. Obviously, both the men's and women's tournaments are underway at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Games, so Teebz and Beans will take a look at that tournament and the results seen there. To be honest, there isn't a lot to really dissect when it comes to Canada's performances, but we'll discuss all the results from the opening week of games. As you may have heard, the Canadian women had a pretty big date with the Americans on Valentine's Day yesterday, and it's always fun to see the mutual hatred come out between these two teams despite them talking about the respect they have for one another. Venla Hovi is playing with Finland as well, so we'll go over all that action tonight!

Teebz and Beans will use the first half of the show for The Olympic Hockey Show once again as they go over the results of the men's tournament followed by what the picture looks like on the women's side. Needless to say, we'll break down the battle waged last night between Canada and the US as we prepare for the expected rematch in the gold medal game. We'll also provide a quick update on Venla Hovi and Finland, so if you want to know about the Olympics from our warped perspective, tune in for the first half of the show! The second half of the show will see us focus on the Manitoba Bisons men's and women's teams as they prepare for the Canada West playoffs, we'll talk about the graduating seniors from the women's team, discuss the fines handed out to Dustin Byfuglien and Madison Bowey for their indiscretions in the Washington-Winnipeg game, chat about the Ottawa-Los Angeles trade, and more! All of this can be heard at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 UMFM and UMFM.com!

But I'm going to be busy tonight, you say, so how do I tune in, you ask? We suggest that you download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows any time of the day, so go get it! Just follow this link on your iDevice or this link for your Android device and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show or UMFM! Download the UMFM app today, and don't miss any of our great programming or shows! Of course, you can do the radio thing at 101.5 on the FM dial and you can always listen online via the UMFM website!

If you prefer social media, we try to remain up-to-speed there as well! Email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show.

Tonight, Teebz and Beans go over the results of the Olympic tournament, talk playoffs for the Bisons, chat fines, discuss Phaneuf-for-Gaborik, and more on The Hockey Show found only on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: February 15, 2018: Episode 282

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Is This Our Game Plan?

Canada and the United States met in their ongoing battle towards the gold medal in Pyeongchang, and it felt like the animosity between the two teams was at a four-year high. Things had gone well for Canada leading up to the games in the pre-tournament action seen in North America and over in South Korea, and that led me to believe that perhaps Laura Schuler and her coaching staff may have solved the American onslaught we were used to seeing in these games. Canada carried the play for periods of time in the pre-tournament games, and that, in my mind, boded well for these Olympic Games.

And then we saw the Americans throw everything but the kitchen sink at the Canadians tonight, and the onslaught on the Canadian net was back as it had been previously. If this is the game plan that Schuler and her staff are employing against the Americans, how long can they play with fire before they get burned?

Make no mistake that Canada buried the chances they had with Meghan Agosta scoring on one of six Canadian power-plays while Sarah Nurse introduced herself to the world with a gorgeous goal as well in helping Canada win 2-1. It wasn't like the reigning gold medalists just sat back and let the Americans skate circles around them, but it looked like the Americans were the better team for the majority of the night.

Perhaps that's ok in Schuler's world but it seems a little risky when you consider the firepower that the Americans possess. The chances the Americans had were certainly plentiful, but they just couldn't finish. You can credit the Canadian defence and Canadian goaltender Genevieve Lacasse for part of that, but you simply can't give up the number of chances the Americans had on this night without having them burn you at some point.

In Canada's defence, they did score four goals, but two were disallowed. Brigette Lacquette's goal was waved off due to a mass of humanity in Maddie Rooney's crease that included a couple of red jerseys, and Haley Irwin's redirection as she stopped was determined to be a kick so it too was disallowed. While the first goal may be hard to allow under Olympic rules, the second goal could have gone either way in this writer's view.

However, talking about these chances is moot had America been able to convert any of it chances. Four goal posts helped Canada. Renata Fast swept a puck off the goal line. American chances were thwarted by shots that were fanned on. They tried to make one extra pass when a shot was probably the better choice on a few occasions. For a team that poured 45 shots on the Canadian net and only found the twine once, the Americans won't be happy with those results.

Both teams will undoubtedly go back and review the video of this game in looking for ways to generate more offence and capitalize on chances and reduce the opportunities of their foes. The physical side of the game, which is always present in these Canada-USA games, was certainly shown as there were skirmishes and checks that would make the men's game proud, but this preview of what could potentially be the gold medal game certainly offers a lot for the coaches and players to reflect on when it comes to the end results.

While Canada may have won the game, the Americans certainly had every opportunity to win this game as well. A victory is a victory and I won't take that away from Canada as they found a way to claim this win, but I feel that this game only sets up what could possibly be another gold medal game to remember between these long-time rivals as the tension, the bulletin board material, and the animosity continues to grow.

If you're Laura Schuler, though, you have a lot of work to do before the final game of this tournament. If Canada does meet the Americans in that game and they play as they did tonight, it could easily be an American victory. That should concern Schuler because her team is better than what they showed tonight, and she needs to get them back to the level of play they showed in winning five of six pre-tournament North American games.

Let's go, Canada!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

The First Move

In a move that caught a number of hockey pundits by surprise, the Los Angeles Kings and Ottawa Senators decided to exchange assets tonight as Ottawa sent Dion Phaneuf and Nate Thompson to Los Angeles in exchange for Marian Gaborik and Drew Shore. Phaneuf, who was playing in the game against Pittsburgh, was pulled mid-game and told of the move while both Gaborik and Shore finished their game before being informed of the deal. Needless to say, both teams needed changes, but is this deal the move they both needed?

As the NHL finalized the details, it was also reported that the Senators would retain 25% of Phaneuf's salary in order to accommodate this deal. In other words, of the $20 million-or-so still owed to Phaneuf on his contract over the next four years, the Senators are on the hook for just over $5 million over those four years. It might be a small pittance to pay when one considers the albatross contract that Phaneuf had and how Ottawa will cut $4,750,000 in salary over the next four seasons.

I have to honest that when I heard Senators owner Eugene Melnyk talking about cutting salary and not being a cap team any longer, I immediately thought that Erik Karlsson was all but gone. The Senators still have some good pieces in Matt Duchene, Bobby Ryan, Mike Hoffman, and Craig Anderson, but I suspect one of those names will finish this season with another team. If you're Erik Karlsson, the additions of Gaborik and Shore do nothing to change the fortunes of the Senators in the long-term, so why would the all-star defenceman give staying a second thought?

Let's be honest: an average savings of about $1.2 million over the next four years is not going to get Karlsson signed when he becomes a free agent. If this team loses Karlsson, the cupboards really are bare when it comes to replacing the international superstar. Thomas Chabot is good, but he's not Karlsson. When you really think of where this team is headed, Erik Karlsson should be one of those cornerstones in that build. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening now.

Gaborik has been a healthy scratch this season after returning from the myriad of injuries he's gone through as he's gotten older. His addition to this roster might help when Bobby Ryan seemingly can't remain healthy, but both men are oft-injured and largely ineffective when playing while injured, so I get Los Angeles GM Rob Blake's wish to include Gaborik in this deal. For Senators GM Pierre Doiron to move Phaneuf, Gaborik and his medical history was the price he had to pay to save $5 million for his owner.

Personally, I don't like this trade for either side, and it might be the best way for two GMs to rid themselves of problems they inherited. At 36, Gaborik's time with Ottawa may be short as a buy-out seems likely this summer. Los Angeles gets a defenceman who doesn't have to be a top-pairing guy, but Phaneuf's decline has been well-documented and it's hard to see him bringing his game to new levels in Los Angeles in an overly-competitive Western Conference.

With both sides having washed their hands of problems they no longer wanted, this might be the start of a very interesting trade deadline season. Ottawa, from all reports, is still looking to shed more salary, and I can't see Los Angeles being happy with their current roster if they're going to push for a Stanley Cup. Let's hope that this trade is the first of many on this year's major contract swap day!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!