Sunday, May 6, 2012

Dasherboard

In today's Dasherboard, we take some time to catch up on news from the world of hockey.

First, sticking with the jersey theme of Third String Goalie, here are the Top Ten best selling jerseys on ShopNHL.com for the month of April.
#10 - Ryan Kesler - Vancouver Canucks
#9 - Patrick Kane - Chicago Blackhawks
#8 - Jonathan Toews - Chicago Blackhawks
#7 - Tim Thomas - Boston Bruins
#6 - Sidney Crosby - Pittsburgh Penguins
#5 - Henrik Lundqvist - New York Rangers
#4 - Alexander Ovechkin - Washington Capitals
#3 - Ryan Callahan - New York Rangers
#2 - Tyler Seguin - Boston Bruins
#1 - Claude Giroux - Philadelphia Flyers
Giroux Flyers sample, Giroux Flyers sample

No surprise that all the players are from teams who qualified for the playoffs this season, but personally we were surprised that Crosby and Ovechkin were not only not the top two as usual, but that neither ranked anywhere in the top three. We wonder how the ShopNHL.com rankings would compare to IceJerseys.com's sales for the same period? We also wonder how sales of legitimate jerseys compare to the ubiquitous Asian knockoffs that are choking ebay and craigslist to death.

The second day of the 2012 World Championships saw all the favored teams hold serve, save perhaps the United States defeating Canada in overtime thanks to an unlucky penalty on Canada's John Tavares, who inadvertently swatted the puck over the glass with a single second remaining in regulation, giving the United States a 4-on-3 power play to begin overtime, which they converted after maintaining possession for the entire 1:47 until Jack Johnson scored the game winner. Tavares was just thrilled to be singled out as Canada's Best Player of the Game and having to pose for several photos afterward...

Combined with their opening game win over France, the United States sits atop Group H with 5 points to Canada's 4. (Teams are awarded 3 points for a win at the World Championships) All other teams in the group have played just one game as of the end of the day Saturday, and Switzerland and Finland each have 3 points while Slovakia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and France are all still at zero.

No surprises so far in Group S, where Sweden has 6 points after two wins after easily beating the Czech Republic 4-1. Russia, Germany, both with one game played, and the Czechs have 3 points while Norway, Denmark, Latvia and Italy are all looking to gain some valuable points in the standings now that the expected four teams are all ahead of them in the group.

There's a busy slate of games today with several close parings presenting an opportunity for some vital points for teams on the bubble of advancing. The full schedule is:
  • France vs. Kazakhstan
  • Denmark vs. Italy
  • Finland vs. Slovakia
  • Russia vs. Norway
  • Switzerland vs. Belarus
  • Germany vs. Latvia
Update: Early Sunday morning eastern time, France won their first game of the tournament, defeating Kazakhstan 6-3 and the first upset of the competition occurred when Italy got out to a 2-0 first period in the first period only go see Denmark come storming back with 3 goals in the first 12 minutes of the second period. Italy then regrouped to even the score two minutes later and then hold Denmark off the scoreboard the rest of the way before winning the game in the first minute of overtime.

Also from the World Championships, here is a brief look at the hard working staff of Nike dealing with approximately 650 jerseys needed during the tournament. If only we could get our jerseys customized that quickly...


In addition to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the World Championships, the three main Canadian junior hockey leagues have begun their final series to determine who will advance to the Memorial Cup, which will take place in Shawinigan, Quebec. The format calls for the host club, the Shawinigan Cataractes, a name which translates in English to "Waterfalls", to gain an automatic entry in the final four, while the other three clubs earn their way into the Memorial Cup by winning their league's championship.

The Ontario Hockey League playoffs have come down to the Niagara IceDogs and the London Knights, both the #1 seeded teams in their respective conferences. Niagara features highly rated Bruins prospect Dougie Hamilton among the three NHL first round draft picks on their roster, which include Mark Visentin (Phoenix) and Jamie Oleksiak (Dallas). London meanwhile has two first round picks, Russian Vladislav Namestnikov of Tampa Bay and American Jarred Tinordi of the Montreal Canadiens. The series is currently tied at 1-1 with Game 3 on Monday.

The Western Hockey League has the Edmonton Oil Kings, #1 in the east, taking on the Portland Winterhawks, who swept the #1 ranked Tri-City Americans in the west conference finals. Team captain Mark Pysyk (Buffalo) leads the Oil Kings while Sven Bartschi (Calgary) and Joe Morrow (Pittsburgh) are the first rounders in this series from the Winterhawks. Portland rebounded after losing Game 1 to tie the WHL Finals with Game 3 taking place later today.

The #1 seeded Saint John Sea Dogs are looking to repeat as Memorial Cup champions and must be favored to win the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championship, as they are facing off against the upset minded Rimouski Oceanic, the seventh seed in the QMJHL playoff bracket. Nathan Beaulieu (Montreal), Charlie Coyle (Minnesota), Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida) and Zack Phillips (Minnesota) are the first round highlights an impressive IceDogs roster while second rounder Petr Straka (Columbus) of the Czech Republic is the highest drafted player from Rimouski. Despite their much higher seeding, Saint John has not had an easy task going up 2-0 in their final series, needing two overtimes in Game 1 to win 3-2 followed by another one goal margin of victory in their 3-2 win, this time accomplished in regulation.

Saint John Sea Dogs 2011 Memorial Cup, Saint John Sea Dogs 2011 Memorial Cup
The 2011 Memorial Cup champion Saint John Sea Dogs

Awaiting the three league champions will be the Cataraces, who feature defenseman Brandon Gormley (Phoenix), a first rounder in 2010.

The Memorial Cup begins on May 18th and runs all the way through the 27th.

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