Category Archives: Hockey

A gimme for the Game of Thrones marketing people

Just prior to last week’s Stadium Series — which saw the LA Kings continue their remarkable second-half winning streak with a 2-1 decision over the mysteriously mediocre San Jose Sharks — one of the Levi’s Stadium webcams got a jealous visit from a territorial black bird. No, not Patrick Kane. C’mon, Game of Thrones people. This footage is a freakin’ freebie.

As for the game, it was all right I suppose. Both of these teams can play something resembling hockey when you give them the chance. The Kings, after eight wins in nine tries, now sit third in the Pacific Division, tied with the Calgary Flames with a game in hand. The Sharks are going the other way — they’ve got just seven points in their last ten games.

Whatever. Even on a balmy California night, I don’t see the appeal behind paying a premium to sit in a baseball stadium to watch puck. The front row is hundreds of feet from the boards, for crying out loud.

Photoshop mangling by Jason Kurylo, who sobbed, 'I could work in film and television post production, I just know I could.'
Photoshop mangling by Jason Kurylo, who sobbed, ‘I could work in film and television post production, I just know I could.’

Episode 56 – Torts, Milos, French girls & grapefruit

Russell & I trade semi-researched factoids for the second time in short order, getting into John Tortorella’s recent soul searching on Tampa radio. In an attempt to show something reminiscent of range, we stretch into Davis Cup tennis and trade two dozen words in French.

• Intro
• Sofa Surfer Girl by the Orchid Highway
• I’m fatigued
• Où sont les pamplemousses?
• John Tortorella is Yoda
• Willie’s ahead of Torts so far
• Davis Cup coming back to UBC
• Daniel Nestor ages not
• Eugenie Bouchard’s legs are all Photoshop
• NHL DOPS: Dmitry Kulikov gets four games
• Time for a Change by the Orchid Highway

"Oh yeah? Well I know I was wrong! How do you like THEM apples?"
“Oh yeah? Well I know I was wrong! How do you like THEM apples?”

Giants Head South to Face Silvertips

by Richard Davalos (Hit him up on the mighty Twitter: @QuakesFan84)

Tonight sees the fifth matchup betweens the Giants and Silvertips this season. Everett has won three of the four games so far by a combined score of 14-4. To be fair, the aggregate scoreline is a little misleading as the Giants have picked up 3 of a possible 8 points in the games played — in a late December back-to-back, they took the home game 2-1, and battled to a 1-0 OT loss on the road. The first and most recent matchups, though? Complete domination by the U.S. Division leading Tips. You should have taken the over in those games, as Everett scored at will: 5-1 and 7-1 finals did not flatter the Giants, who were frankly outclassed on both sides of the puck.

Matt Pufahl isn't with the Silvertips anymore, but frankly this is one of my favourite shots from last season. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Matt Pufahl isn’t with the Silvertips anymore, but frankly this is one of my favourite shots from last season. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Lately the Giants and Silvertips have been pretty even against the field, with Vancouver going 4-5-0-1 and Everett 5-4-0-1 in their last ten.

Besides that Last Ten Games column in the stats sheet, there’s not much in common between Vancouver and Everett this year. The Silvertips and Giants are in different stages of rebuilding: Everett is near completion, while the Giants have a solid foundation of young players but have seen uneven play from their veterans.. Quite literally the only thing they share in common this season is a bottom-half penalty kill, with both teams nullifying only 76.2% of power plays faced, tied for 17th in the 22-team Western Hockey League.

Despite the dismal penalty kill, coach Kevin Constantine has made the Silvertips have been a tough nut to crack — not only are they the second best defensive team in the WHL, with just 149 goals allowed (only Kelowna has allowed fewer at 138), but they have also taken the second fewest penalties in the league, and that isn’t even close. Everett have taken only 544 minutes in penalties (Kootenay has 539 PIM), the third-most disciplined teams are Brandon and Moose Jaw, tied at 665 minutes.  If the Giants want to avoid another blowout, or gasp! to win, they will have to stay out of the box themselves and try to goad Everett into taking a few penalties at home.  They cannot repeat what happened in the last game, when they took 41 minutes in penalties to Everett’s 19 on the way to a six-goal defeat.

The Giants visit Braden Low and the Everett Silvertips in Friday night WHL action. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
The Giants visit Braden Low and the Everett Silvertips in Friday night WHL action. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Quick Hits

Vancouver have been good at home, but are losers in 10 of their last 11 games played away from Pacific Coliseum. Everett, on the other hand, have been dynamite at Xfinity Arena: they’ve won eight of their last ten at home, with that lonely loss just a few days ago versus Tri-City. If the Giants are going to make that post-season, they really ought to figure things out on the road. Of their 17 games remaining, nine require loading up the bus.

Vancouver is six points behind Tri-City for the number one Wild Card spot, and one point ahead of Kamloops for the last playoff spot, although both teams have a game in hand on the dirty, rotten, stinkin’ Blazers.

The next home game for the Giants is next Wednesday against the Red Deer Rebels — at noon! — in the annual Hooky Day.

Giants beat Memorial Cup champion Oil Kings

The Vancouver Giants won their third straight home game with a messy but satisfying 3-1 decision over the Edmonton Oil Kings. It wasn’t a high-flying, high-scoring, fight-filled affair like the previous two wins over Red Deer and Seattle, but hey, a win is a win is a win.

Edgars Kulda of the Edmonton Oil Kings looks for a tip in front of Vancouver Giants goaltender Cody Porter. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Edgars Kulda of the Edmonton Oil Kings looks for a tip in front of Vancouver Giants goaltender Cody Porter. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Carter Popoff popped off a pair of goals, including an empty netter, and now sits at a team-high 22 goals. Only Zane Jones’s moustache has more scores this season, but 18 of the nose tickler’s 26 goals came with other clubs before it and Zane Jones himself joined the Giants in a trade in early January, and the countless young ladies swooning over that ginger liprug just don’t count. Rookie left winger Vladimir Bobylev potted his third of the year in the second period, and that wound up being the game winning goal.

Let’s be clear. This Edmonton team is not the same one that won the Memorial Cup last year. When he’s not winning World Junior gold, Curtis Lazar is playing for Ottawa Senators. Griffin Reinhart also won one of them shiny medallions, and has split the rest of the year between the New York Islanders and their AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers. (Aside: what the hell is a sound tiger? A jungle cat whose mental acuity isn’t in question?) Put plainly, the Oil Kings ain’t a patch on last year’s Eastern Conference-winning team.

Edgars Kulda had his share of supporters in the crowd as his Edmonton Oil Kings lost 3-1 to the Vancouver Giants. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Edgars Kulda had his share of supporters in the crowd as his Edmonton Oil Kings lost 3-1 to the Vancouver Giants. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Still, a defending champion, even one tenuously holding onto their own playoff spot, walks into every building with a certain swagger. There were scores of classic red, white and gold Oil Kings shirts at the Coliseum on Wednesday — even if the visiting team wore awful black third jerseys neon green trim on the ice. Edgars Kulda, whose older brother Artūrs played for Latvia in 2014 at both the Olympics and World Championships, received cheers from countrymen every time he approached the puck, but it was Lane Bauer who scored Edmonton’s only goal on the night. Cody Porter was solid in his 12th win of the year, stopping 31 of 32 shots, several of the point-blank rebound variety.

Brett Pollock of the Edmonton Oil Kings models perhaps the ugliest third jersey in the WHL this season. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Brett Pollock of the Edmonton Oil Kings models perhaps the ugliest third jersey in the WHL this season. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

The Giants hit the road for a pair of weekend games south of the border, back-to-back puck drops against the Everett Silvertips and Tri-City Americans. For the moment, .despite being seven games under .500, Vancouver sits in a playoff position; the G-Men are one point up on Kamloops with a game in hand.

The next Giants home game is Wednesday, February 18 against the Moose Jaw Warriors — it’s a noon game on a weekday, which means the lower bowl will be packed with school children on field trips. The energy in the place is outstanding for this game every year, a promotion the Giants are calling Hooky Day.

Vancouver rides the Stache to a Giant two points

Dude. This guy is in Lanny McDonald territory. WHL file photo.
Dude. This guy is in Lanny McDonald territory. WHL file photo.

Zane Jones’s moustache scored once and added an assist to drive the Vancouver Giants to a 5–4 win over the Red Deer Rebels on Friday night. The ginger duster was all over the place at the Pacific Coliseum, laying hits, creating open ice and sweeping into the dirty areas of the rink.

During an early second-period Giants power play, Jones’s lip foliage took a cross-ice pass in the left face-off circle. Rather than one-timing a snap shot on Rebels goaltender Taz Burman, the soup strainer extraordinaire took the puck to the backhand to cut around a sprawled d-man, made a power move to the lip of the crease. From there, Mr Tickler buzzed a shot into a razor-thin bit of open net, going top shelf where grandpa keeps the moustache wax. The entire sequence was made even more impressive by the fact that the tastefully trimmed mouth brow was dragging along a 210-pound Zane Jones under it the entire time. That lip luggage may have been named third star in the building Friday, but ask just about any of the six thousand-plus fans in attendance, and they’ll almost certainly name Old Bullet Proof number one.

The bro-merang’s big game meant a lot to the Giants, who won for just the second time in the last ten tries.

“I haven’t seen a nose bug like that since Lanny McDonald,” said Red Deer GM and head coach Brent Sutter in an exclusive interview I totally made up in my head during the drive home from the rink. “Seriously, I still have burns on my neck from all those battles on the boards against that mustachioed bastard. Back in the day I preferred getting speared by Ken Linseman to rubbing up against that bloody caterpillar.”

All kidding aside, this was a great game — it had everything junior hockey is meant to be. Loads of goals, momentum swings, a handful of fights and high energy action from the get-go to the final buzzer. On the strength of some lengthy periods of uptempo forechecking and hard work down low, the Giants were able to come back from 2-0, 3-1 and 4-3 deficits. Not to take anything away from Alec Baer’s late tying goal or from Ty Ronning’s power play winner with under a minute to go, Jones and his vaunted lip sweater were the main reasons the G-men walked away with these two points.

Zane Jones's moustache was all over the ice Friday night, scoring on this impressive power move in the second before setting up a late tying goal in the Giants 5-4 win over Red Deer. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Zane Jones’s moustache was all over the ice Friday night, scoring on this impressive power move in the second before setting up a late tying goal in the Giants 5-4 win over Red Deer. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

You know you wanna bobble Jon Blum’s head

You be the judge.
You be the judge. Does Jon Blum’s bobblehead resemble the real deal?

Bobbleheads are weirder than a kissing cousin convention, but their creepy kitsch is almost universally appealing. For years, figures bore little resemblance to the target athlete, but of late, the sculpts are getting better every season. No matter how lifelike they are, though, who doesn’t get a kick out of an oversized head waggling away on a teensy, tiny body? I mean, just look at Kelly Ripa’s numbers. (Seriously, how does she keep that blonde balloon afloat? There’s gotta be wirework involved, or a complex system of pulleys and gears…)

The Kelly Ripa bobblehead dol... wait, that's just Kelly Ripa.
The Kelly Ripa bobblehead dol… wait, that’s just Kelly Ripa.

At the Vancouver Giants game on Friday night, 1,000 fans will walk away with a bobblehead of former team captain Jonathon Blum.

The Giants are just two points behind the slumping Tri-City Americans, who are coming off a 7-1 loss at the hands of the class of the WHL Kelowna Rockets. The Amerks have won just thrice in their last dozen games, while the Giants have garnered points in twelve of their last fifteen.

Continue reading You know you wanna bobble Jon Blum’s head

Weird goals

Matt Ustaski, pinball wizard
Matt Ustaski of the Wisconsin Badgers scored what is likely the strangest goal of his collegiate career on Friday, potting one from 190 feet. Sure, teams score empty netters all the time, but the Matt O’Connor was still on the ice for the Boston Terriers at the time. The BU keeper skated out to start a counter-attack as the Badgers made a defensive change, but his pass careened off of defenseman Brien Diffley and into his own net.

It was very nearly UW’s biggest win of the year — they’ve only won twice in fourteen games — as Ustaski’s goal gave the Badgers a 3-1 lead with less than three minutes to play against the #2 ranked Terriers. It wasn’t to be, however. BU would score twice with O’Connor on the bench, including the tying goal with 2.2 seconds left, and would eventually win via the dreaded shootout.

Continue reading Weird goals

Somebody Approved This: 2015 NHL All-Star Jersey

In an age of hyper marketing, intense competition and tightly controlled PR, it’s amazing that truly horrible ideas can still make it past the brainstorming stage. Whether it’s the nightmare of design by committee or just a conflagration of mediocre talents pulling the wool over the eyes of out of touch rich CEOs, we occasionally see awful designs rolled out in an underwhelming explosion of anticlimax. Today, we analyze the most recent NHL obscenity with the resurrection of Somebody Approved This.

Recently, the National Hockey League apparently decided to just give up on their All-Star Game. “Screw it,” I imagine Gary Bettman saying, laying arms crossed inside a coffin while Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly nourishes him with the blood of the eternally youthful Jaromir Jagr. “If the fans want to turn this thing into a farce by voting in an obscure Latvian member of the Buffalo Sabres with 42 career points then we shall give them their farce!” Enter the latest in somewhat sorta hockey jersey-looking apparel. The 2015 NHL All-Star jersey, brought to you by Zellers.

BMX hockey tribute jackets? Nope. These are the actual 2015 NHL All-Star Game jerseys. Not even Chris Withers likes them.
BMX hockey tribute jackets? Nope. These are the actual 2015 NHL All-Star Game jerseys. Not even Chris Withers likes them.

Continue reading Somebody Approved This: 2015 NHL All-Star Jersey

Torts + Gillis > Iron Mike?

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a Canucks fan who misses the regime of Coach John Tortorella and President/GM Mike Gillis. Around these parts, they’re nearly as reviled as Coach Mike Keenan and…  Acting GM Mike Keenan.

There are loads of similarities. But who was worse? The answer doesn’t come as easily as you might think.

Three of the most hated men in Vancouver hockey. Photos cribbed from an AskJeeves search.
Three of the most hated men in Vancouver hockey. Photos cribbed from the interweb..

Continue reading Torts + Gillis > Iron Mike?

Woke up to some Head on Xmas morning

Vancouver sports fans have a few things to unwrap under the tree this year, indeed. The Vancouver Whitecaps, Canucks and Giants are all giving in the spirit of the season. To start, this is for you, ladies…

Octavio Rivero may not win the Golden Boot next season, but he should look good on the end of those Mauro Rosales crosses. Photo cribbed from the interweb.
La Cabeza  may not win the Golden Boot next season, but he should look good on the end of those Mauro Rosales crosses. The ladies tell me he looks especially good after scoring. Wait, what? Photo cribbed from the interweb.

Continue reading Woke up to some Head on Xmas morning