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Stanley Cup Refs Missing Too Many Calls

Wednesday night, we not only had an MLB umpire blowing a perfect game for Tigers pitcher Armando Galarrgga, but apparently the NHL Stanley Cup referees were also out of it. The problem is the missed calls were not limited to Game 3 of the series — the referees have been missing calls against both the Chicago Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers the entire series.

Now before you jump to conclusions that I’m angry because of some Blackhawks favoritism (and the fact that they lost), I want you to know that’s not the case; there are some plays that the Blackhawks got away with too. What stood out as the most egregious error was the refs missing a boarding call on this hit by Chris Pronger on Patrick Kane:

Kaner’s helmet was knocked off because of that hit from Pronger. What did the refs do? Well they didn’t call boarding like they should have. That was the second time that Pronger had gone after Kane and it was pretty obvious he had it out for him. But hey, that’s hockey.

I’m cool with players going after one another — that’s just adds to the competitive nature of the game. But when you have Pronger who is 6’6″ and 220 pounds targeting Kane who is 5’8″ and 178 pounds, there is something wrong with that. Flyers fans almost saw Kane’s bones break right in front of them. I guess that’s why they call them the “Orange Crush”.

The point of this is that NHL refs need to pay closer attention to some of these plays. Not just for the Blackhawks, but also for the Flyers too — this is the Stanley Cup Finals. The only positive I did see from Pronger going after Kane last night was that Kane wasn’t going to back down. It reminded me of the heart that he showed during the Gold Medal Game at the Vancover Olympics. The kid might actually be growing some cojones instead of shying away from every check that comes his way.

Tampa Bay Rays Show Their Support For Chicago Blackhawks

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon is known for his themed road trips. In the past, Maddon and his players had Miami Vice,  Western attire and even a Johnny Cash themed trip. But this time Maddon thought it would be appropriate to do an NHL theme because the team was headed to Toronto to play the Blue Jays while the Stanley Cup Finals were also going on.

Originally, the Rays players were just going to sport whatever hockey jersey they could find. (I can’t imagine that would be an easy task in Florida.) But luckily Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, a Chicago native, has a nephew who works in the Chicago Blackhawks ticketing department. He was able to pull a few strings and the Blackhawks offered to send jerseys to anyone who wanted one.

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Blackhawks Owner Tells Chicago to Boycott Orange During Cup Finals

The Stanley Cup Finals begin on Saturday night at the United Center in Chicago with the Blackhawks hosting the Philadelphia Flyers. In an act of superstition, Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz is telling the people of Chicago to boycott everything orange — one of the primary colors of the Flyers.

“I’m taking every orange tie in my closet and throwing it out. Restaurants could take anything orange off the menu for the time being. Weekend, maybe. And no wearing orange.”

This is pretty cool. It would be even cooler if people actually listened and there was no orange around the city this weekend. It could very well happen. Blackhawks fever is rampant; even the famous Art Institute lions have gotten in the spirit and are sporting Blackhawks helmets.

So listen up Chicago, the following things are banned until the series is over: orange soda, orange juice, Doritos, Cheetos, carrots, goldfish (the actual fish and the delicious snack), any piece of orange clothing, sunsets, open flames, sherbet, actual oranges, and bad spray tans. Anything I left out that is orange is also prohibited.

As for Philadelphia, there are way too many things that are red to made a good list for you but apples, roses, strawberries, cherries, Coca Cola labels, ladybugs and traffic lights are a pretty good start. Although I wouldn’t really recommend boycotting red lights but hey, that’s your call.

Sources:
Blackhawks Boycott! Orange is Out [Chicago Sun-Times]

Jonathan Toews Won’t Touch Trophy Yet

On Sunday, the Chicago Blackhawks punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup for the first time in 18 years.  After the Blackhawks became the Western Conference champions, 22-year-old captain Jonathan Toews was presented with the Clarence Campbell Bowl for winning the Western Conference, and he stayed the heck away from that thing.

Good move, Captain Serious. When it comes to my sports, I am extremely superstitious. I believe in growing playoff beards , always watching the game at the same bar, and wearing my favorite jersey for games. Back when the Chicago White Sox won the World Series, it was because of my lucky black and white socks. But to see the Hawks captain be as superstitious as me is pretty awesome.

The best thing about Toews not touching the trophy is the meaning behind the action. For him not to touch that trophy means that he won’t settle for less than the Stanley Cup. Toews wants it so bad apparently he loses sleep over it:

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Blackhawks Return to Stanley Cup Finals for First Time Since 1992

The Chicago Blackhawks wrapped up the Western Conference by sweeping the San Jose Sharks in their best of seven series, winning 4-2 on Sunday. The win sends Chicago to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1992.

Dustin Byfuglien became the game’s hero once again scoring on a power play in the third period to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead. Kris Versteeg scored the empty net goal with 42 seconds left to seal up the win for Chicago. Now that the Blackhawks have gotten past the Sharks, they await the winner of the Eastern Conference. The Flyers have a 3-1 series lead on the Canadiens with Game 5 set for Monday night.

If the Flyers advance the Blackhawks will face one of the toughest defenses in the NHL. If the Habs pull of the comeback, they will have a huge amount of momentum behind them heading into the finals. Plus, a Montreal win would produce a will be a true Original Six showdown — you can’t get much better than that.

Personally, I see the Flyers winning the East and going up against the Hawks for the Cup. As I said at the start of the playoffs, I see the Blackhawks taking the Stanley Cup back to Chicago because they are a young, hungry team. But for right now, Chicago is celebrating their sweep of the Sharks and a trip to the Cup.

Photo Credit: Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images

Chicago Blackhawks: Don’t Rest Easy Yet

On Friday night, the Chicago Blackhawks finally came home after an extended road trip from Vancouver to San Jose.  The San Jose Sharks were looking to win their first game of the series and avoid going down 3-0 in the Western Conference Finals. Well that’s exactly what happened.

The Sharks tied the game with about four minutes left in the third period and both teams failed to score before the clock wound down. It was time for some overtime hockey and at 12:24 in OT, Dustin Byfuglien scored his seventh playoff goal to win it for the Hawks. It was a good feeling to know that the Blackhawks could win a game at home.

Now, I didn’t see any looting Friday night like the fans of Montreal do after a win, but I did hear a lot of “We’ve got the Cup” talk.  No, we don’t. If the 2010 NHL playoffs have taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Who would have expected the Washington Capitals to be knocked out in the first round? Who would have expected it to be by the eighth seeded Montreal Canadiens? Who would expect those same Canadiens to knock out the defending Stanley Cup champs — the Pittsburgh Penguins? And who would expect it to be so hard for teams to win on their home ice during the playoffs?

All I can say is that it’s not over yet. The Blackhawks are within reach of their first shot at the Stanley Cup since ’92 and the Sharks are on the brink of being eliminated earlier than expected once again. Still, nothing has been finalized yet. The Boston Bruins have already proven that a 3-0 series lead can disappear in the blink of an eye.

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Home Ice Disadvantage in Playoffs

Whenever the playoffs come around in any sport, we always here about the “home advantage.” Well, in these 2010 NHL Playoffs, we are seeing exactly the opposite. Every team in the playoffs, aside from the Sharks, has faced difficulty winning at home. For some reason the Sharks have been amazing no matter where they are.

Let’s start with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks. Game One of their Western Conference semifinals series resulted in an embarrassing home loss for the Blackhawks as the Canucks came into the United Center and just took over. The Blackhawks fell 5-1 that night, but came back for three straight dominate performances, two of which were on the road in Vancouver (where the Hawks seemed to enjoy taunting the fans).  Sunday night, the Canucks came into Chicago facing elimination, and they walked away with 4-1 road victory over the Blackhawks. Game Six will take place Tuesday night in Vancouver. So, why are these two teams so much better when they don’t have their home crowd behind them? There might not be an answer, but these teams are hardly an isolated case.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens have shown a similar pattern of losing at home in their Eastern Conference semifinals series. The Penguins dominated in their first home game of this series, but then fell to the Canadiens in the second home game. The Canadiens fell to the Penguins when they returned to Montreal, but won their second home game too. They have forced Game Six in Montreal Monday night.

I think the home struggles of these teams has a lot to do with the goals of the road teams. It seems that all of these road teams are feeding off the energy of quieting the crowd and embarrassing the home town team in front of them. Hey, the fans love taunting the visiting teams — just check out the green men in Vancouver, who have been taunting all season.  My guess is that the players love taunting on the road as much as the fans do, only they do it by winning. That’s somewhat strange because in my opinion, there’s nothing better than a win in front of your home town fans.

Sources:
Five Things We Learned From Sunday [ESPN]