I play beer league hockey as probably many of you have done or currently do. I play it a lot. Perhaps my favorite part is the locker room. I am serious when I say the locker room is brutal, and it must be the same no matter how far you go in hockey. One of my buddies and former semi-pro hockey players once told me to quit “beaking off” after a little dirty play inspired me to discourse my favorite and well-traveled invective. I had to think about it for a bit, but then it dawned on me that it’s a take on chirping which is what hockey players do to one another, A LOT, during a game and especially in the locker room. Birds chirp. Birds have beaks. So chirping is beaking off. This will be my weekly segment. I will beak off on my rants and praise for the team, and all things Panther. Don’t get me wrong, my love affair with the Panthers goes back to the beginning days when all the papers were abuzz with this new idea of bringing ice hockey to Florida. The initial attraction has grown into a 26-year marriage that keeps blossoming every year. And many of you readers are married and you darn well know there is chirping and beaking going on in a marriage, A LOT of it. So please take it with a grain of salt, no matter what I say, I love this team and I would not have it any other way.
Many of you will have noticed we have a somewhat new voice in the press box on color sitting next to Goldie (whom I have affectionately called Annoying Orange to pay homage to my son’s favorite kids show). He used to sit next to Mr. Pink (taken from one of my favorite movies Reservoir Dogs). Well, Mr. Pink has taken on a new “job” and is formally retired. While I loved the fact that he was a multiple Stanley Cup winner and one of the best to play the game, his work in the booth with Goldie was, well, how to put this as nicely as possible, well, just ok. I really liked the dynamic between Billy Lindsay and Goldie. I actually thought they would fight some days from all the beaking (see, you’re finally getting it). Now Randy Moller has joined the team permanently, after being the radio voice and later the man on the ice between the benches and some fill in duty when Mr. Pink did not want to do away games. He’s a funny dude and it comes through in his work. While he may not have the same saucy banter with Annoying Orange, yet, give it time. I can feel it. My favorite line from him last night was, “It’s like riding a bike without a seat, you don’t wanna do it”. At first glance it seems germane enough, maybe innocuous. But think about it, go take that bicycle seat off that nice shiny, 1” diameter seat post and think about riding that bike around the block, over a few speed bumps. It’s funny. I laughed out loud. I had also just ridden 10 miles the previous night and was walking a little bowlegged, so it was more personal to me.
Then we had a hockey game last night. Hell yes!!! I watched the second half of the second period live, then after my beer league game (where we won, I had a goal and an assist and still managed to be -1 but I digress…;) I watched the replay. So, I will start my beak and in random form:
- I like Stralman. His stretch pass to Dadonov early in the game was legit. He played well with Weegar. They were able to keep the puck out of our end for the most part and Stralman does a great job with the zone exists and break out passing. Good mix of skating and passing to get the puck out.
- I really like Hunt. Played with confidence and in a north-south fashion that will earn him more ice time. He had a couple scoring opportunities and came close by hitting the post.
- Hoffman and Trocheck looked GOOD together. I like the chemistry that is forming. And we should just sign Hoffman to an extension or a new deal already. He is a game changer and I do not want to have to play against him. My cousin Vinny looked a bit like his old self. LOVED the hit on Kucherov.
- I have to admit I liked the play from Ekblad and Matheson. Ekblad tried to mess a few things up but ended up messing up trying to mess up and it worked. His stretch pass to Vinny was lethal. Matheson made a nice spin-a-rama move with a couple shots on goal and generally played a good zone exit game. Refreshing.
- The first line is like watching those fancy melted chocolate ads, SMOOTH. While they did not score, or get any points for that matter, they moved the puck with finesse and made it look easy at times against a world-class team. You can see teams are really trying to clamp down on The Prodigy (16), so Big Dawg (11) and Magnum Pater Familias (63) (it means Big Daddy in Latin, come on) better step is up. MPF had several tricky shots that Vaselinesky had to make timely saves on.
- Bobrovsky, whom the radio announcers for Tampa last Saturday unknowing cemented his nickname as Bubba Rovsky, just played a lights-out game, even in a 4 goals against night. He is so quick and makes very timely saves that don’t look special at game speed but slowed down they are just nasty. He’s a keeper, no pun intended :).
- Sorry for the bad, but our special teams sucked. The first four goals were special teams related. Kucherov just blue-eyed Russian sniped that first goal on a delayed penalty, Cap’n Kirk (the absolute best hockey name ever btw) put in a goal off Vatrano 1 second after a power play, Palat scored on a lucky rebound bounce on a PP, and Maroon also scored on a lucky rebound. The common denominator: no net front presence. Gotta be stronger and nastier in front of the net and not allow clean rebound shots to go in. Gotta be that bicycle seat post that I mentioned earlier, may a little Lightning Lollipop, if you get my drift.
- I love our Lord and Sceviour, I do. Colton Jesus. But dang, he did not have a good game. He looked lost. Acciari played well and performed his role with good grind and face off wins. Dryden Hunt (73), like I said, played well. Sceviour, not so much. I would have actually liked to see Lucky Hawk (8) out there on the 4th and this may be the case tomorrow. Anyway, hopefully Sceviour bounces back.
- The hit on Weegar was downright ridiculous. Weegar was not attempting to turn or move up the ice, just bracing for a hit. Driving your elbow and shoulder into the head of an opponent is just unacceptable these days. He left the game which tells me he’s in the concussion protocol and there are only so many of those a player can take until they are done. That being said, we play the Smurfs in our barn tomorrow. There better darn well be some un-gentlemanly discourse from some of our tougher fellars. Gotta put out the message that we will not take this stuff and you will not injure our players and get away Scott-free (who the heck is Scott in that scenario), anyway, time to toughen up and start putting out the hits instead of taking the hits.
There you have it, the week 1 beak is in the books. Just my random thoughts on this lovely Friday, the first of 30. Chirp, Chirp peeps.
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