Last night was a bit of a preview for the long summer hockey off season. With the odd scheduling in the Conference finals, the only hockey on TV in the US was the final round robin game in the Memorial Cup that was played for pride and pride alone.
Moncton was eliminated from the tournament on Tuesday night when they lost in overtime to Windsor. Moncton finished 0-3 while Windsor, who is 3-0, moved directly to Sunday's championship game.
Calgary and Brandon moved to Friday's simi-final play-in game so the potential tie breaker game will not be needed tonight.
So with the final seedings set, last night's game was a battle for pride between the two best teams from the WHL regular season. Calgary eliminated Brandon in the WHL semifinals with a 4-1 series win.
Last night all the scoring took place in the first period with Calgary going ahead 5-1 but the action did not there. There were plenty of scraps and a lot of positioning for Friday's game that counts. It was a fun game to watch on an otherwise hockey-less night in the US.
I was pleased to be able to appear on the latest edition of The Rink Podcast with James "Tapeleg" Gralian. We discussed the Pred's early exit, Jason Arnott's captaincy, the Pred's free agents and also the upcoming Flood Relief NHL Tweet-Up. Also appearing on the podcast was K of C and Jay Kumar. It was a fun visit as James always does a great job on a podcast that I never miss.
The World Championships also had Wednesday off but will jump into the quarterfinal round today when four more countries will be eliminated.
Finland will play the Czech Republic which should match Pekka Rinne against ex Pred Tomas Vokoun. Rinne did not start against Russia on Tuesday but I would imagine he will be the go to guy for the Fins in the medal round.
Canada will be a heavy underdog against a stacked Russian team that is out for revenge. The Russians are still stinging from the 7-3 loss at the Olympics that ended their medal chances. Canada's team in no was resembles the squad that took the ice in Vancouver, while Russia has proven to be the strongest team in the tournament.
In the oldest international rivalry, dating back to 1910, the hometown German team will play Switzerland. The game will feature four Predatos with Roman Josi playing for Switzerland and Marcel Goc, Robert Dietrich and Alexander Sulzer for the Germans. This is a great match between two teams that have not advanced far in recent years.
The other game will be between Sweden and Denmark. The simi-finals will be Saturday and the finals will be on Sunday.
The biggest stink of the off day was caused by this article that was posted on the IIHF website that was critical of the number of players who chose not to represent their countries in this long Olympic year. Dirk Hoag has a poll on whether Shea Weber and Ryan Suter were unpatriotic for not playing in the games.
Chris Burton at On The Forecheck has the latest stats for Preds participating in the tournament.
Here is today's complete quarterfinal schedule.
Finland -Czech Republic 9am
Sweden - Denmark 9am
Russia - Canada 1pm
Switzerland -Germany 1pm
Tonight's Playoff Game...
The Flyers - Habs series will have a change of scenery tonight at 6:00 CDT when the action moves to Montreal for game three. It will be interesting to see if Michael Leighton will continue his unbelievable run since returning from his recent injury. I've rarely seen a goalie appear to be as excited as Leighton was as the clock wound down in game two.
On the other end of the rink, all will be watching to see which Jaroslav Halak shows up to play. Will it be the unstoppable one of the first two rounds that stole games against the two best teams in the East or will it be the one who has received little support and was pummeled in the first two games of the series.
Fans, who want to see a long series will be pulling for the Habs because if they lose, then I doubt it will go more than five games.
In Pred Nation...
Mark Willoughby released pictures of the first batch of auction items for the Nashville Flood Relief NHL Tweet-Up. There is also more information at the NHL Tweetup site. Sign up to attend at the TwTvite site.
The Winnipeg Free Press has a nice feature story about Ryan Ellis.
The Cincinnati Cyclones return to the ice tonight at 6:30 p.m. CDT against the Idaho Steelheads to try to take a 3-1 series lead.
Scott Hartnell was a guest on last night's Slap Shot Radio with Paul McCann.
Tales from the Batcave ranks the Pred's logo as the second best in the NHL.
Around the NHL...
The Sporting News named Henrik Sedin as the NHL Player of the Year.
The Oiler's Kevin Lowe declared that they were changing back to a philosophy of home grown talent instead of free agents. I guess you can say that when you have the number one pick.
Jeremy Roenick will join NBC's studio team for the finals. Maybe he'll finally take a swing at Mike Milbury.
Matt Reitz has a different look at the Dale Talon hiring in Florida. He also points us to the five part Kingscast year end wrap-up. We are looking forward to meeting these guys in person at the draft.
Here's an early list of unrestricted free agents by position from SportsCity.
With all the discussion of Canada needing more teams, how is Ottawa losing money? Down Goes Brown takes a look.
From the Point has the inside scoop on how to purchase the last Mellon Arena hot dog. They also have the story of Lance Armstrong being a whiny baby over Versus cutting away to Game 2 of the ECF after suffering the wrath of hockey fans for starting game one late on Sunday.
Michelle Kenneth has a new look at her site.
Odds and Ends...
Here's a Blackberry app that is supposed to help avoid the dreaded battery pull.
Here's another great review of Rob Higgins' Dearly Beloved album "Make It Bleed".
Finally... I admit that I'm on the Michael Leighton band wagon and I really liked this HWBM.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass