Monday, February 01, 2010

Around the Rink

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

Hold Your Water

What the Phoenix Coyotes are doing isn't something short of a miracle.

OK, so after a win on Sunday in Dallas, the club occupies the fourth spot in
the Western Conference with a 33-18-5 record -- which is the best mark for the
team at this period in the season since the late 1990's -- and they're also
second in the Pacific to powerhouse San Jose.

They've accomplished all this against the backdrop of constant shenangians
between the NHL and various ownership groups vying for control of the
franchise, and the looming spectres of contraction and relocation.

Still, it's hard to see the Coyotes' rise as anything other than a natural
reaction to adverse circumstances. You either collapse or rise to the
occasion.

This time around, the eager young charges under Dave Tippett are in the zone
where they don't know they're not supposed to be this good; only that they
need to play to shut out all other distractions and there's nowhere to go but
up with nothing to lose.

It doesn't say anything about the psychological makeup of the team heading
into the pressure-cooker of a playoff race, and it certainly isn't an
indicator of any future success.

At best, Phoenix can hope to shock the hockey world for one season and one
season only; the law of averages in an overstuffed league and an uber-
competitive conference will catch up to them.

It's nice that people are finally trekking across the desert to Glendale to
see a winner when faced with the prospect of not having a team. It won't be so
nice when reality sets in and the club performs to its talent level and the
mass of humanity shifts away.

We Wuz Robbed (Repeatedly)

I write this especially for Flyers fans, but in general to those who are fans
of the NHL in general:

The league is NOT anti-your-team, they are PRO-Penguins. In short the laundry
list looks like this:

The league allowed the Pens to tank the 2003-04 season in order to compete in
the Ovechkin/Malkin sweepstakes, continued the charade in 2005 with the rigged
draft lottery system allowing the club to get the top spot in order to pick
Sidney Crosby; worked out a complex arena deal with the Lemieux ownership and
the state of to prevent the Pens from heading to Kansas City; chose not to
suspend Malkin during last year's Stanley Cup Finals despite a clear,
suspendable offense; consistently tilted or ignored calls in both Canada and
North America which benefit the Penguins.

I suggest that the fans of the remaining 29 teams get used to this fact and
stop complaining when the inevitable occurs. I also suggest that the
management, coaches and players of the remaining 29 teams find the personnel,
system -- and above all else, discipline -- to overcome this obstacle.

Your College Hockey Minute

The first two Mondays in February means just one thing among hockey fanatics:
Beanpot time in Boston.

Boston College, Boston University, Harvard and Northeastern pair off for Hub
hockey bragging rights in a tournament which, aside from its current student
bodies and alumni, sadly means nothing to the rest of the hockey world.

Nonetheless, for those of us who have moved out of the area, it's a time to
crack open the piggy bank and bribe the bartender at the pub that has
satellite TV.

In 2010, BC plays Northeastern at 5 p.m. and BU takes on Harvard at 8 p.m.,
with the winners squaring off at TD Garden next week.

Boston University has dominated of late, winning 15 of the last 20 Beanpots
and 29 all-time. Boston College has won 14 titles with the last coming two
years ago, while Harvard hasn't won since 1993 and Northeastern the red-headed
stepchild of the group hasn't tasted victory since 1985.

This date in Flyers history...

February 1, 2007 - Flyers defenseman Alexandre Picard sets a rookie record
with four assists in a game, during the Devils' 6-5 overtime win in
Philadelphia.
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