Monday, December 26, 2011

2012 World Juniors: Game 1 Canada VS Finland

In pre-tournament play, Canada beat Finland 3-1, a hardly dominating score. When it came to the real thing, Canada walked all over Finland pretty easily 8-1. While Mark Stone's hat trick was the talk of the game, the score sheet shows another player that really should get recognition: Justin Huberdeau who had five points in the game (1 goal and 4 assists). Huberdeau has been hurt for most of this season and not many knew what to expect from him in the tournament. A five point game is a great way to start.

The biggest weakness on team Canada seems to be in goal. After waiting to find out who would start, Canada went with Mark Visentin who played a strong game but must get better as the tournament goes on. He seemed to be very quick in the crease, but will need to calm his game down against better competition. If watch any of the best goalies in the NHL right now they are very relaxed and calm in the crease. Very rarely do they get caught out of position and have to make a big save.

Canada may have lost Smith-Pelly due to a foot injury he sustained in the second period when blocking a shot. No word yet on the result of his x-rays.

Canada next game is on Wednesday at 7:30 against the Czech Republic.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I hope Santa was extra good to everyone! In the next couple of days I will be posting my Pacific Exhibit and Pacific Vanguard box breaks! I also got a really nice mail day before Christmas so I will be posting that as well.

Everyone enjoy a wonderful day (with family hopefully) and eat a lot of good food. I will be back to posting in a few days!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

HBO 24/7: Flyers and Rangers Part 2

All I can say is that I really love this series and if you are not watching it you probably should be! The star of the show seems to be Ilya Bryzgalov thanks to his quirky and strange sense of humor. I really thought that Sean Avery would be one of the more bright spots on the show, yet up to this point he has gotten very little camera time. They did mention in the episode that he is getting very little playing time and has been a healthy scratch.

This episode featured a very important game for the Flyers against the Bruins in which they got beat to nothing. I always wondered how the coach would react to a game like this and I was quite surprised. Due to the fact the Flyers have been playing so well Peter Laviolette, the Phili coach just told the team think about the loss and use it for motivation going forward. No "f bombs", no yelling or getting angry. I was quite surprised by this reaction!

The coaches seemed to be the surprise of this episode and John Tortorella surprised me the most. Never being a fan of Tortorella, my opinion on him has changed after I saw a relationship he has with a young fan. This young fan has cerebral palsy and Tortorella has been a major support, encouraging the young fan during challenging times of his rehab. They also keep in touch through text messages and calls. Being a huge Rangers fan, you can tell that Tortorella has give a young fan motivation in a very challenging life. It's nice to see the softer side of hockey players since we usually don't see it in the media.

Part three should be quite "epic" as we are getting much closer to the actual game, which happens on January 2nd 2012. By the way, is anyone looking forward to the alumni game on January 1st between the Flyers and Rangers?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

PC Mailday: First Sawchuk In a While

Another ITG Auto for .99 cents plus shipping! This one is from 2005-06, Montoya's rookie season. I don't see this card come up often and I'm happy to finally snag a copy.

Same as above, another .99 cent Montoya card! These cards look pretty similar but at least feature different photos.

Another ITG Ultimate McLean card to cross off my list. I like that the card features a picture of McLean in a Panthers uniform as they don't have many. The card seems rather plain with the one color jersey pieces, I may upgrade in the future but for now I am happy to have this card.

What a beauty of a card! Look how young Sawchuk looks in this picture. The Sawchuk memorabilia piece features a piece of a game used glove. This card looks even better in hand and features two of the best goalies of all-time. I am pumped to add this card to my collection and it's also my first Jacques Plante memorabilia card in my collection as well.

Team Canada World Juniors Preview Part 3: The Goalies

Team Canada has usually been lucky to feature some very highly regarded prospects protecting the net. The last few years have not been the case and this year will no different then the last few. With that being said, other low level prospects have stepped up in the past to play excellent for Canada, think Manny Legace or Mike Moffatt. I feel like both the goalies this year have that potential to play above there heads.

Mark Visentin was taken with a late first round choice by the Phoenix Coyotes. He plays for Niagara, a powerhouse team in the OHL. He is having a slightly off year in terms of goals against average and save percentage. He was the backup for last years team and he will be the starter this year.

Scott Wedgewood is perhaps the biggest underdog on the team Canada roster. He is a third round draft pick of the New Jersey Devils and has never really been a dominant player in junior. I hope Team Canada coaching staff see something special in this kid because they took over a handful of much more talented goalies. Most likely won't see much game action but he made it very clear that if he got a chance he would run with it.

I am glad I did this preview. Team Canada's roster seems to be pretty strong this time around and I hope it results in a gold medal. The goaltending will make all the difference and hopefully when the going gets tough, the goalies will be in the zone and make some clutch saves that weren't made in the past few years.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Team Canada World Juniors Part 2: The Forwards

Team Canada's forwards consist of  six first round picks and one soon to be first round pick come 2012 (Tanner Pearson).

Jaden Schwartz is currently the only team Canada player not in the NHL or Major Junior as he plays for Colorado College. He should see first line duty and is a first round pick of the Blues.

Michael Bournival is one of the least recognizable names on the roster. He is a third round NHL draft pick of Colorado and is currently averaging almost a goal a game in the QMJHL.

Jonathan Huberdeau is an offensive whiz, although he has been injured as of late. He went third overall in last years NHL draft with Florida and is averaging over two points a game with Saint John of the QMJHL.

Brendan Gallagher is the smallest player on the team at 5"8 and 178 pounds. He has lit up the WHL during his major junior career, although I see his career path being similar to Brandon Kozun or Brandon Reid: decent numbers in the minors for a few years, then head over to Europe. He controls his fate and a big tournament will help put away any doubts of his effectiveness due to size.

Freddie Hamilton is a fifth round pick of San Jose and is the brother of Dougie Hamilton. He looks to be a future third line NHL player, with a ceiling at best for second line duty. He is plus point per game player in the OHL.

Brett Connolly will looked to for some big goals and leadership given his NHL experience so far this season. Hopefully he can build up his mojo again with a great world junior showing and take this back to the Lightning of the NHL.

Tanner Pearson was a big surprise in camp and is the only non drafted forward on the team. After a decent rookie season in the OHL, he is averaging nearly two points per game with Barrie this season. He probably won't get top ice time with Canada, but if he does, he should have no problems producing.

Mark Stone is a sixth round pick of Ottawa and plays for Brandon of the WHL where he is having a strong season. Ottawa may have gotten a steal with Stone in the sixth round.

Ryan Strome was taken fifth overall by the Islanders in '11 draft. He is well rounded player who should be counted on at both ends of the ice.

Mark Scheifele is perhaps the most popular player on the team thanks to his time with the Winnipeg Jets to start the season. He should play on the top line and will be a dominant force.

Boone Jenner may be Canada's least offensive oriented player and will be suited toward a grinding roll. In such a short tournament, players like this have incredible value and hopefully Jenner will accept his role on such a talented team.

Quinton Howden, a late pick in the first round by the Florida Panthers is presently on pace to have his best season yet with Moose Jaw of the WHL. He will be a very important player for Canada and should see some PP and PK time.

Devante Smith-Pelly is having a so-so start to his NHL career with Anaheim. Regardless, he will be counted on big time by Canada to produce timely goals and hits. He should be a top six forward with the red and white.

Goalies will be coming up in part 3....

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2012 IIHF Team Canada World Junior Roster Preview

Since the age of six, I have enjoyed watching the World Junior Tournament and I look forward to it every holiday season. So many future NHL stars played in this great tournament and on the flip side, this tournament has shown flaw's in some of the worlds top prospects that hurt there pre-draft rankings.

My preview starts with Team Canada's defense, which boasts five first round draft picks!

Jamie Oleksiak is a Dallas first round draft pick and is a big boy at 6"5, 244 pounds. Look for him to be a dominant physical force in the tournament. Don't expect a whole lot of offense though as that is just not his game.

Brandon Gormley is a Phoenix Coyotes number one draft pick and a average sized offensive defenseman. He is currently averaging over a point per game with Moncton of the QMJHL.

Dougie Hamilton at the moment may be one of the best defense prospects in the tournament. He is a Boston first round pick and is averaging a point and a half a game with Niagra of the OHL. He should be Canada's go to guy on the point and should see plenty of ice time.

Mark Pysyk is a first round pick of the Buffalo Sabres and one of the the players I know little about. He plays in the WHL for Edmonton, a league that doesn't get as much exposure in southern Ontario. The WHL is known for breeding tough defensemen, so I'm expecting a physical presence from Pysyk.

Scott Harington is a second round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins and plays for London of the OHL. He has the best plus minus (along with Beaulieu) out of all the Canadian defensemen with a +20.

Ryan Murray has not been drafted yet due to a later birthday but should be taken in this years draft top ten overall. He has been limited to eleven games this season with Everett of the OHL.

Nathan Beaulieu rounds out Canada's defense. He was taken in the first round by the Montreal Canadians and plays for Saint John's of the QMJHL. He has a nice blend of offense and defense, averaging nearly a point a game this season, while adding 57 penalty minutes in 30 games.

Next up, Team Canada's Forwards..

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Yu Darvish Sweepstakes

The talk of baseball lately has been of the bidding for Yu Darvish, a star pitcher in Japan. The major clubs being linked to winning his services are the: Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Nationals and Rangers.

At this moment the rumour is that the Rangers and Jays are the front runners for Dravish and the Nationals bid was much too low. The Red Sox who spent the most money ever on a posted player with Dice K, most likely will not take the large gamble on trying to win the post on Darvish. The Yankees have too many big contracts at the moment to be serious contenders. Perhaps if they could have gotten rid of AJ Burnett, things would have gone different for Darvish.

Between the Rangers and Jays, who do you think will have the winning bid? Personally, as a Jays fan, I don't think Darvish will end up in Toronto. Rogers is too cheap and AA is too reserved to make a large splash when adding a high end player. The Rangers have been a very aggressive club in the last few years when it comes to improving there ball club and having lost C.J Wilson to the Angels, they will be looking to add the next best pitcher (perhaps the best) available this off-season.

Personally I hope that the Jays do not get Darvish. The track record for Japanese players is not very good. The only player to have had long term success is Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners and you could argue Hideki Matsui. Other players have had a few good seasons but do not lead to long lasting productive careers. The Jays have plenty of pitching prospects and it would serve them best to let them develop, then to over pay for pitching help.

All I can say is good luck to the Rangers and I hope that Darvish works out for them.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Some Recent Mail

I have been sick for most of the week, so my mail day's had been piling up. I have some really nice PC stuff coming in and this lot is the start of it. Getting right into things is a nice Fuhr stick & jersey from 2006-07 ITG BTP. I really like the look of the card featuring Fuhr in the old school Oilers jersey.

Yes, the above two scans go together and yes this an ULTRA TOUGH blank back from this years OPC hockey set. I have looked EVERYWHERE for this card and I asked almost every single dealer at the Fall Toronto Sports Card Expo if they had this card with no luck. I had yet to see the card on eBay either, so I was lucky enough to have a fellow collector help me out with the where abouts of this card, trade for it and then sell it to me for a very low price. One of my favourite pick ups of the year considering how much time I spent tracking it down.

Next up is some jersey cards from the 05-06 Ultra Scoring Kings set. I busted a box of this product when I got back into collecting hockey and actually pulled the Jagr Scoring Kings Jersey. I needed some money so I sold the card and have regretted it ever since. I am very pleased to have this card back in my collection.

Finally, my mini PC for Ben Scrivens starts with this Certified Signature rookie. I really like the look of these rookies cards. I got this card for a pretty good price when a seller listed it as a buy it now right when the set was released.

Not sure what took me so long to get Montoya's regular FW auto. Very pleased to add this to the Montoya PC.

I have seen this card quite a bit but usually in the $15-$20 range on eBay for the "buy it now" listing. I waited it out for an auction listing and won the card for $2 plus shipping. I have always liked the "fresh ink" cards and it's nice to finally have one in my collection.

A few low end Montoya rookies to wrap up my post of recent pick ups. A pretty good week of mail and I knocked a nice amount of cards off my want list for around $40. I'm looking forward to the mail this week as I have some ITG Ultimate stuff on the way!

11-12 ITG Enforcers, Tyson Nash and How He Impacted my Hockey Experience

I was scrolling through ITG's checklist for there 11-12 enforcers set coming out in January and I spotted a name on the checklist I hadn't thought of for sometime "Tyson Nash".

Tyson Nash mainly played in the NHL in the early 2000's, registering 374 games played, just 27 goals and 673 penalty minutes. Years from now, hardly anyone will remember that he played in the world's best league, although I'm sure I will tell my children about him someday.

Years ago, as a teen, I just finished a break out season in a low level rec league and thanks to my parents encouragement after talk from some coaches, they felt it was time for me to try out for the next level. Money was always tight growing up and my family could never afford to enroll me into a high level hockey program. So for the first seven years of my hockey experience, I toiled at the lowest level. I never really dominated at any point and I was never really a star player on the teams I played for. Not until my breakout season.

It was very intimidating to step up to a new level, I was not overly big, just 5"7 135 pounds at the time and I had never tested myself against better players before. I was not having the greatest tryout and it looked like I would be heading back down again, until an episode of TSN's "That's Hockey" changed everything. The show featured a rookie by the name of Tyson Nash, an average size hockey player, with average talents, making a large splash in the NHL thanks to his above average agitating skills. This was the first time in my life I stopped dreaming of being the next Mario or Cam Neely, I knew I would have to be like Tyson Nash if I ever wanted to move up the hockey ladder.

As luck would have it, I made the team due to one of the teams star players being removed from the team due to bad behavior. I inherited his over sized sweater with the number 89 on it (an obvious sign that they had not planned on me making the team). The other kids on the team had gotten to order there's jersey based on size preference and number, I was just happy to have a jersey.

As the season started, I grew more comfortable in my role as an agitator and the coaches took notice. They coaches me if I could keep it up for the rest of the season and I told them "no problem", they then handed me an "A", and asked me to sew it on my sweater. I will always remember what I was told next "that style of play you have, it will take you places", the coach told me.

The reaction to the ITG enforcers series as been a mixed bag of reviews. Due to the amount of head injuries lately, fighting in hockey has been a very sensitive subject. If anything I think that the ITG Enforcers set pays it's respects to the guys who had to pave there way to the NHL the hard way. So much emphasis is put on the skill guys in the NHL that players who grinded there way to the top don't get the same amount of credit.

I look forward to the release of enforcers; I know I will be picking up singles of Tyson Nash and finally I will be able to add a Link Gaetz autograph to my collection.

What singles from the series do you look forward to picking up?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

HBO 24/7: Flyers & Rangers

If you haven't watched part one of the HBO special 24/7, Flyers & Rangers, I highly recommend you watch it. I never showed any interest in watching the Caps and Pens series last year as I was completely sick of hearing about the Crosby Vs. Ovie garbage.

After just a few minutes I knew I was automatically hooked on the series. Two big curiosity's I have had lately have been: how the Rangers felt about the "gun celebration" by Artem Anisimov and how Wayne Simmond's felt about kneeing perhaps the best NHL player at the moment in the back of the head. Both of these situations were highlighted during the special.

Two things I really liked about the special so far have been the locker room scenes between periods and what sort of things are spoken. Secondly, I really enjoyed seeing one the players would do during down time in the afternoons. I found it very surprising how well the Rangers have seemed to bond together this season and the show emphasises that.

One of the players that really surprised me was Wayne Simmonds. He seems like a really down to earth guy who is humble and enjoys during work in the community. It's nice to see the side of players off the rink as I know from experience that most players are much different on and off the ice.

The show starts off with scenes of the players fighting from both teams and I found it funny that every fighting scene featuring a New York Ranger was of Brandon Prust. I saw this guy play in junior and you could tell that he loved to fight and nobody wanted to mess with him.

I can't wait until next Wednesday for part two and I'm really looking forward to the outdoor game on January 2nd, despite not being a big fan of either teams.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

2001-02 Titanium Break

A big thanks goes out to everyone who reads my blog. I have gone up to 15 subscribers and I thank each and everyone of you!

I did really well with this break, first pack I pulled this nice little PC gem:

I really like the look of the base cards for the set and these serial number cards look really cool as well. I also pulled another PC card numbered to /94: Tom Barrasso!

Six packs in each box and each box contains one double sided jersey card. I had one extra thick pack and I saved that one for last. I pulled a really nice gem!

The Modano is a 4 color patch! You can't see the green in the scan, but it is there. The Turgeon is just a boring white patch, but the Modano more then makes up for it.

It's a shame that Pacific shut it's door's. They put out some nice premium products in the early 00's and this led to premium products today like the cup and ITG Memorabilia. I love finding these old Pacific boxes for great prices and I have two more boxes to open on Christmas!