Hockey Headlines

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Pre-Playoff Hockey Notes

Tomorrow night sees one of sports' finest traditions begin again as the annual rite of not shaving begins around North America with the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs getting underway. The man to the left with the impressive facial hair is Emil Kåberg from last season's Orebro hockey club in Sweden. That, readers, is one heckuva playoff beard, and there's a good chance we may see a few NHL players sporting their own facial hair designs like Mr. Kåberg.

Playoff Pool Entries

I want to start off this entry with a big thanks to everyone who has entered into the HBIC Playoff Pool thus far. I am excited for this year's pool as there are still prizes rolling in, meaning we'll have prizes for a number of the top finishers. I also want to thank Mark Penxa and Rob Ullman as they've provided a few prizes, so expect to see their names a lot when talking about the HBIC Playoff Pool prizes. Those two guys are beyond awesome!

You have until puck-drop on Wednesday night to get those picks in, so head over to the entry page and get yourself signed up!

Florida Wins Lottery

There were no major surprises today in the NHL Draft Lottery except for the bottom-two teams in the NHL flip-flopping their order. Buffalo, who finished 30th, will draft at the second-overall position behind the Draft Lottery-winning Florida Panthers. It will be an interesting situation for Florida going into the draft.

The only position that has a lock on it is goaltending. Roberto Luongo is going to be there for the foreseeable future, and he's got a ton of time left on his contract. Drafting a goaltender first-overall is something that has happened before when Luongo was the bonafide starting guy, but I can't see that happening in Florida. Instead, I see them grabbing another talented forward or even Ekblad for their defence corps, and working some of the younger guys in as they did this year.

I can say that Winnipeg's insistence on winning meaningless games at the end of the season didn't do them any favors as they'll draft ninth-overall rather than at the fifth-spot that they were in one week ago. If you're out, why bother? I've never understood this.

Manitoban In Union

Mat Bodie is one of 2200 students at Union College in New York. Mat was born in Winnipeg, lived in East St. Paul, attended River East Collegiate, and played briefly in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League during his time here in Manitoba before landing at Union College for school.

Union College offers no athletic scholarships, meaning Mat's hockey acumen would have to be proven on the ice if he wanted to play NCAA hockey. Mat made the Dutchman squad, eventually becoming their captain this season in his senior year.

Saturday night, Mat got to leave the Dutchman program as a champion after Union had defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers 7-4 in the championship game. He scored the seventh goal for Union on the night into an empty net and set up two of the other six, factoring in on nearly half of the Dutchmen offence. He led the Union College Dutchmen on a 16-0-1 run, including twelve-straight wins to close out the season.

Winnipeg, Manitoba pride? You can bet Mat Bodie has it, and the entire city is proud of him!

There's Another Pool

This one is a little tougher to get into since there are a limited number of spaces, but the prizes will be excellent in this contest as well as The Hockey Show on 101.5 UMFM and www.umfm.com presents the second annual...
If you're a regular listener, you know that this contest is pretty insane. At approximately 5:35pm CT - five minutes after the show is on the air - we will open up the phones for the Survivor: NHL Playoffs contest to start. Callers will be required to pick a numbered envelope that contains a randomly-selected team inside, and that is the team that the caller will be associated with for the entire Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It's very similar to office-style Survivor pools, but we run it with the sixteen teams participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs rather than the thirty-or-so players on Survivor. But because we're on the radio, we're not done with those that get in on the contest there. Oh, no... there's more!

If your team is eliminated, we'll call you so you can do your Survivor-style exit interview like you see at the end of every Survivor elimination. We want to hear why you thought your team was terrible. We want to hear you question the coach's decision and the hammer away on under-performing stars. In short, be candid, be honest, and be funny!

We'll go over all this stuff on Thursday night on The Hockey Show, so tune in for some fun and get qualified in the Survivor: NHL Playoffs contest!

EA Sports Calls It

If you're a fan of the NHL Hockey franchise owned by EA Sports, you'll be interested to know who they have predicted to win the Stanley Cup through their simulations at EA Sports Headquarters. Games were played, series were won, and only one team stood at the end. According to EA Sports, the 2014 Stanley Cup Champions will be the...
Boston Bruins!

Their simulations predicted that the Bruins would defeat the San Jose Sharks in six games with goaltender Tuukka Rask finishing the playoffs with a 1.56 GAA, .948 SV% and four shutouts to earn the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Their simulations also showed that the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers would sweep Tampa Bay and Philadelphia, respectively, out of the playoffs in the opening round, that Chicago's defence of the Stanley Cup would end in the second-round in a seven-game loss to Colorado, and that the Rangers would meet the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final for a seven-game battle that would end with a Patrice Bergeron goal five minutes into overtime in Game Seven.

Keep an eye on these predictions, readers! We'll see how the EA Sports' simulation shakes down as the playoffs continue!

That's all for tonight, kids! The Stanley Cup Playoffs start tomorrow, so I'll be glued to the television for the next three months. If you need to reach me, just leave me a message and I'll get to it in July!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 14 April 2014

2014 HBIC Playoff Pool

The biggest annual contest on this site is back for yet another year of insanity as the 2014 HBIC Playoff Pool starts on Wednesday! Seedings have been decided, match-ups have been set, and the battles will start both on the ice and in the pool as the 2014 HBIC Playoff Pool gets underway! If you've participated before, you know this pool gets intense. If you've played before, you know there are some decent prizes to be had for those who qualify. And if you've entered before, you know that the annual HBIC Playoff Pool is 100% free of charge for any and all participants! Ready to have fun? Then let's get this show on the road!

MAKE SURE YOU READ TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS ENTRY FOR DETAILS! If it's an important piece of info, I have highlighted it in orange. Good? Good. Go.

Every year since the founding of HBIC, I have offered an absolutely-free hockey pool for my readers. There are prizes for those who perform well, and I am happy to do this for those of you who stop by here when you can. This year will be no exception as the pool will be free again, and there will be some great prizing available for those that rise above the rest. I can already guarantee the grand-prize winner will go home with a jersey, and there will be prizes awarded for at least the top-five participants. In other words, you have five shots at prizes right now, and there may be more coming based on availability.

RULES

  • Entrants will be required to pick the winner of each game for each series. In doing so, one will also choose the number of games played by the two teams in each series.
  • Entrants will be required to pick the game-winning goal scorer for each game.
Sounds pretty easy, right? No real strategy as to which team will go further, who is playing whom, and all that jazz. Points will be based upon your predictions in each game and series.
  • For each correctly-predicted team that wins the game, one point will be awarded. 
  • For correctly predicting the series length, two points will be awarded.
  • For correctly predicting the series length AND winning team, five points will be awarded. If one correctly predicts the series length and winning team, the two-point option is overridden by the higher-scoring option.
  • For predicting the player who scores the game-winning goal per game, that entrant will receive an additional two points per game per correctly-chosen player.
The following example should help you weed through the rules:
For the Pittsburgh-Columbus series, I predict that Pittsburgh will win Games 1, 2, 4, and 6. The Blue Jackets will win Games 3 and 5. I also predict that Chris Kunitz will score the game-winner in Game 1; Paul Martin in Game 2; Sidney Crosby in Game 4; and, James Neal in Game 6. Cam Atkinson will score Columbus' winner in Game 3 while Artem Anisimov will score the winner in Game 5.
If I correctly predicted the entire series (highly improbable with my record of prognostications) of Pittsburgh winning in six games with all my game-winner scoring choices being right, I would earn 23 points (6 for each correct game + 5 for correctly predicting length and series winner + 12 for each game-winning goal scorer).

The catch to this whole thing is that no one will be eliminated until the Stanley Cup is handed out. With each new round beginning, each entrant will be required to send in their picks just as they did in the previous round. This way, everyone has a chance at some free shwag. And everyone loves free shwag.

TIE-BREAKER

I would hazard a guess at there possibly being a tie between two or more people, so your tie-breaker, required at the start of the first round, is to name the team who will accumulate THE MOST PENALTY MINUTES THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE PLAYOFFS. Those who are tied will have their answers reviewed, and the entrant who picked the team with the higher PIM total for the playoffs will be crowned as the winner. Secondary tie-breaker, in case two entrants pick the same team for PIMs, will be number of series correctly predicted in length of games. For example, if Entrant A picks Boston and Entrant B picks Detroit, and Boston has the higher PIM total, Entrant A would be the winner. If tied, the entrant who had the most series wins would be the winner.

COST TO ENTER

The best part of the HBIC Playoff Pool? It's FREE! Always has been, always will be. You guys support me all year, so I feel I should give back when I can, and this pool allows me to do so.

You can enter at no cost, and the shwag is up for grabs. The only thing I ask, to be fair, is that you only enter once, please. Also, if you happen to miss a round, that's fine. Things happen, people get busy, no big deal. Just remember that you may find yourself in a very difficult spot if you miss any of the rounds because the point totals available in each round decrease with the lower total number of series being played. I won't be babysitting, so it's your job to enter as the Playoff Pool continues.

HOW DO I ENTER?

I will continue to use the email account specifically for the HBIC Playoff Pool simply because my normal email is ridiculously cluttered and I need some time to go through it. That being said, you MUST send all picks to this new email address: hbicplayoffpool-at-gmail-dot-com. Entries sent to any other email address that you have for me will be categorically deleted so that I can keep all of the HBIC Playoff Pool entries in one place. Clear? Nod your head. You don't want your Poolie Picks to go missing in my disorganized mailbox, do you?

Now to expedite the marking, I have created a pretty little Excel document that can be opened in both Microsoft Excel and OpenOffice Calc. Fill this out and send it back to me WITH YOUR NAME AS THE NAME OF THE EXCEL DOCUMENT (ie. Teebz.xls).

I want to be clear about something: I have an iPad and I use it regularly. I understand that some people want to use .numbers format from the Apple world, but it's a pain in the rear for me when scoring and updating. If you are going to use the .numbers format, please see if you can save the document in .pdf or some sort of common format between the Apple and Windows platforms. That's my only request from all participants!

Click here to download if you missed the link above.

And I think that about does it. If you have any questions, fire me an email here. DO NOT SEND YOUR PICKS TO THAT EMAIL! Follow the directions above to do so. Get your picks in by the puck drop in Game One of the first series on Wednesday to enter the pool! If you have some sort of issue with this deadline, please email ASAP so we can make arrangements!

May the best prognosticator win, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Playoffs, Baby!

Oh, Flyers fans. I hate the Flyers and their fans, but I love them for their witty interaction and die-hard love of their team. They still love their Broad Street Bullies, but they welcome a new breed if they play the game in the same vein as their beloved Stanley Cup-winning teams did. In short, the Flyers' faithful are ravenous, even rabid, come playoff time, and if they can't have the Stanley Cup, they'll take the blood of their opponents.

If you remember back a couple of weeks, there was chatter on HBIC about a great actor and friend of the blog named Dan Franko. Dan, a Washington Capitals fan, was learning to love the Flyers thanks to the work he was doing on a project. Well, that project is finished, and HBIC is proud to post this new piece by Chris Perillo featuring the great Dan Franko entitled Playoffs, Baby!

Pretty decent little film, right? Honestly, it's pretty funny to me simply because this is the kind of insanity that one has come to expect from Philadelphia fans. I mean, who tries to knock out their teeth to resemble Bobby Clarke? No one from any city other than Philly.

Of course, this entire video is poking fun at the Flyers and their fans, so please don't take this at face value. Chris is having a little fun with this video, and the guys in it aren't doing anything but being satirical about the craziness seen from Flyers fans. I'm a fan of the video, and I hope they'll do another!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Gagarin Cup Conference Finals

Two more teams would advance this week as the KHL's Gagarin Cup Playoffs went from four teams down to two teams with the conference finals being decided. Would there be upsets in this round? Could Mike Keenan's Metallurg Magnitogorsk team continue to plow through the Eastern Conference as the top-seeded team? Would Lev Prague be upset by Curtis Sanford and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl? Let's check out the action and find out who advances to play for the Gagarin Cup! And, as always, all overtime goals will be linked!

WEST - #3 Lev Prague vs. #8 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

Lev entered this series 8-2 after having swept Medvescak Zagreb and downing Donbass Donetsk 4-2. They became the first non-Russian team to advance this far, and were looking to keep the good times rolling. They would meet upset-enjoying Lokomotiv Yaroslavl who bounced two-time defending champion Dynamo Moscow out of the tournament in seven games before dispatching Ilya Kovalchuk and SKA St. Petersburg in six games under their 8-5 record.

GAME ONE: The hometown fans in Prague would see their team hit the scoreboard first in Game One. With Lokomotiv killing off a penalty, Niko Kapanen threw the puck back to Marc-Andre Gragnani who one-time passes it to Ondrej Nemec in the high-slot, and his one-timer find the net behind Sanford on the powerplay to put Prague up 1-0 at the 14:14 mark. 45 seconds later, the party was on in Prague as Jakub Klepis' long wrister from the point through traffic finds its way past Sanford, and it was 2-0 Lev Prague. Petri Vehanen wouldn't need any help on this night, but Niko Kapanen would score late in the game on a bad turnover by Lokomotiv for the 3-0 lead. Vehanen stopped all 32 shots he faced for the victory. LEV PRAGUE LEADS 1-0.

GAME TWO: Once again, Prague got their fans into the game early. Petr Vrana's pass from the left circle cross-ice while on the powerplay to Nathan Oystrick found the target, and Oystrick's one-timer was fished out of the net by Sanford for the 1-0 Prague lead just 11:36 in. We'll jump ahead to the 18:17 mark when Patrik Zackrisson picked up a rebound in amongst a few pairs of feet in the slot, and he roofed it past Sanford for the 2-0 Prague lead. 9:20 into the third period saw Lokomotiv with a two-man advantage, and Sergei Plotnikov's cross-crease pass to Yegor Averin left little chance for Vehanen as Lokomotiv cut the lead to 2-1. However, Vehanen stopped all the rest in posting 34 of 35 saves to help Lev Prague take this one by a 2-1 count. LEV PRAGUE LEADS 2-0.

GAME THREE: The series shifts back to Yaroslavl, Russia where Lokomotiv needs to find a way to break through the wall known as Petri Vehanen. Lev would open the scoring once again in this one, though. Petr Vrana circled the net, finding Martin Thornberg in the slot on the powerplay at the 17:44 mark, and his shot beat Sanford for the 1-0 lead. We jump to late in the second with Prague on the powerplay once more. Mikko Maenpaa's shot from the slot bounces around wildly before Thornberg's second powerplay goal from the left of the net finds twine with 40 seconds in the period, and Prague goes up 2-0. 3:43 into the third sees Nathan Oystrick's shot from the top of the circle deflected by the defenceman in front of him, and the puck sails past Sanford once more for the 3-0 Lev lead. Once again, Vehanen is perfect on this night as he stops all 25 shots in the 3-0 victory! LEV PRAGUE LEADS 3-0.

GAME FOUR: Lokomotiv fans packed Arena-2000 to cheer on their team as they looked to bounce back from the brink of elimination. Lev wouldn't open the scoring in the first period tonight, but they would in the second period. Calle Ridderwall's shot from the left wing is kicked out by Sanford, but Jiri Novotny was last to touch it as the rebound goes in off a back-checking defenceman at 4:04 to put Lev up 1-0. At the 14:25 mark with Lokomotiv down a man, Sergei Plotnikov forces a turnover at the blueline where Yegor Yakovlev picks up the puck with a full head of steam, makes a couple of nice moves including a toe-drag in the slot, and beats Vehanen shorthanded what has to be the prettiest goal of the Gagarin Cup Playoffs thus far. Make it a 1-1 game. 4:22 later, with Plotnikov in the box after another massive hit, Petr Vrana would set up Nathan Oystrick in the high slot, and his wrist shot goes top-shelf for the powerplay goal to make it 2-1 Lev. We jump to 13:45 of the third period where Sergei Konkov takes a pass from Jonas Holos to the top of the left circle, and his wrist shot finds its way through Vehanen's wickets to tie the game up at 2-2! Neither team could find a winner after sixty minutes, so we were off to overtime where we'd see a winner at the 19:41 mark!
Sergei Plotnikov, who had a big game, cleaned up the Vladislav Kartayev rebound to keep Lokomotiv alive with the 3-2 overtime victory in Game Four! LEV PRAGUE LEADS 3-1.

GAME FIVE: Could the magic continue for Lokomotiv as the teams returned to the Czech Republic? Like every game in this series, Lev Prague opens the scoring just 10:45 into the game. Jakub Nakladal's point shot is tipped by Michal Repik as he's being tackled, and the puck gets past Sanford for the early 1-0 lead. 4:46 later, Prague is on the powerplay when Niko Kapanen feeds Justin Azevedo at the top of the circle, and his shot past a screened Sanford puts the home side up 2-0! But Lokomotiv strike back just 1:20 later when Mikelis Redlihs feeds Geoff Platt out in front of Vehanen, and he goes high on Vehanen to cut the lead to 2-1. Jump to the second at the 5:56 mark, Michal Repik and Michal Birner break in on the two-on-one, and Repik feeds Birner for the shot, but Sanford stops it. However, the rebound was kicked right back to Birner, and he makes no mistake on the second attempt, putting Lev Prague up 3-1. With 2:55 to play in the period, Geoff Platt scores an incredible goal to cut the lead to 3-2! Petri Vehanen was the story in the third, stopping all eleven shots he faced, in helping Lev Prague to the 3-2 win! LEV PRAGUE WINS 4-1.

EAST - #1 Metallurg Magnitogorsk vs. #4 Salavat Yulaev Ufa

Metallurg had been cruising in the playoffs, looking like a true top-seeded team as they handily dispatched Admiral Vladivostok 4-1 before dumping Sibir Novosibirsk in a sweep. Salavat Yulaev Ufa needed seven games to get past Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod before dispatching Barys Astana in six games to make it to the Eastern Conference Final.

GAME ONE: Just 4:08 in, the visitors took the lead. Alexander Mereskin's shot from the left side is stopped by Metallurg's Vitaly Koshechkin, but the puck goes off him in the air to the far post where Denis Khlystov uses some nice hand-eye coordination to bat the puck out of midair into the net for the 1-0 Ufa lead. 4:04 later sees Metallurg on the powerplay where Francis Pare snaps a shot from the left half-boards that is stopped by Andrei Vasilevsky, but the rebound pops out to a wide-open Mikhail Yunkov in the slot and he buries it to square the game at 1-1. 4:02 after that goal, Andrei Zubarev has the puck behind the Magnitogorsk net when he spots Teemu Hartikainen skating into the left face-off circle. Pass, shot, and goal by Hartikainen makes this a 2-1 game for Ufa. At the 17:57 mark, another beautiful goal is scored when Bogdan Potekhin pokes the puck past Alexei Kaigorodov at center ice for the breakaway! Potekhin opens up Vasilevsky with a backhand-forehand move before sliding the puck between his legs for the 2-2 equalizer! 6:26 into the second period sees Danis Zaripov behind the net with the puck, and he spots Sergei Mozyakin cruising into the zone down the right side of the slot. A tape-to-tape pass and a nice shot to the far side of the net past Vasilevsky puts Metallurg up 3-2! From there, it was all goaltending. Neither team could solve the men in between the pipes, meaning that Metallurg Magnitogorsk takes Game One by the 3-2 final. METALLURG MAGNITOGORSK LEADS 1-0.

GAME TWO: Just 9:26 in with Magnitogorsk on the powerplay, we get the opening goal. Chris Lee feedd Danis Zaripov at the top of the right face-off circle, and Zaripov's one-timer beats a screened Andrei Vasilevsky to put the home side up 1-0! Ufa would even the game with just one second in the period, though, when Teemu Hartikainen sends Antti Pihlstrom in the on the partial breakaway, and he avoids the Vitaly Koshechkin's poke-check to put the puck behind him for the 1-1 equalizer. 3:13 into the second period, Andrei Zubarev's blast from the point goes wide off the endboards to an uncovered Igor Mirnov, and he makes no mistake in potting the powerplay marker as Koshechkin was out of position for the 2-1 Ufa lead. We'll jump ahead to 9:10 of the third period where Yaroslav Kosov, wearing #68, looks like the more famous #68 as he jukes and plays keep away against a defender. After turning towards the net, Kosov spots Francis Pare with his stick on the ice, and the cross-crease pass leads to an easy tap-in for Pare and the 2-2 score. The final horn would sound with that same score, so it was off to overtime for some free hockey. However, free hockey would need a full period plus 1:05 to determine a winner in this one.
How do you let the leading scorer in the playoffs get that open to the right of your goaltender? Furthermore, who the heck was Ivan Vishnevsky covering on the left side? There's no one there! Sergei Mozyakin's backhander past Andrei Vasilevsky seals the deal for Metallurg in the 3-2 overtime victory. METALLURG MAGNITOGORSK LEADS 2-0.

GAME THREE: With the series shifting to Ufa Arena, Salavat needed something to go right for them if they hoped to make a series out this. Just 3:51 in, things would start right. Igor Mirnov's pass from the right face-off circle to the slot where Antti Pihlstrom is crashing finds Pihlstrom's tape, and the deflection is spot-on for the powerplay goal and the early 1-0 Ufa lead. We'll jump to the third period with that same score, and Ufa makes it a two-goal game. Alexander Stepanov fights off a defender to throw a backhand pass into the slot as he wheels behind the net, and Anton Slepyshev cashes in that pass at 5:28 mark for the 2-0 lead. 40 seconds later, with Magnitogorsk's Tim Brent watching from the sin bin, Kirill Koltsov's point shot is tipped in front by Antti Pihlstrom, and the puck finds its way past Koshechkin for the 3-0 Ufa lead. 8:14 after that has Ufa on the powerplay once more, Tomas Zaborsky finishes off a nice passing play in the slot for the 4-0 Ufa lead. Vasilevsky would only need one goal on this night as he stopped all 22 shots he faced for the shutout, but Ufa provided four in the 4-0 victory! METALLURG MAGNITOGORSK LEADS 2-1.

GAME FOUR: This game's opening goal comes in the second period. With Metallurg on the powerplay, they work the triangle passing extremely well. Jan Kovar send it down from the circle to Sergei Mozyakin down-low off to the left of the net who one-time passes it to Viktor Antipin in the slot. Antipin's one-timer finds twine behind Vasilevsky for the powerplay marker, and Metallurg leads 1-0. Vasily Koshechkin would be the story in this one, denying all 39 shots he faced from Ufa, and Ufa takes Game Four by the slimmest of margins thanks to Koshechkin's shutout in the 1-0 win! METALLURG MAGNITOGORSK LEADS 3-1.

GAME FIVE: With the series shifting back to Magnitogorsk, Salavat finds themselves with their backs against the walls. It's do-or-die time, and this one was a goaltending duel! I don't normaly show goaltending highlights in this one, but Andrei Vasilevsky was simply ridiculous at times in this game!
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? That's playoff goaltending, readers. Do anything you have to in order to keep the puck out of your net. Amazing saves there! However, neither goalie would allow a goal through regulation time, so it was off to overtime, tied 0-0, to determine a winner. And just 1:12 into the extra frame, we found the winner.
Bogdan Potekhin's pass out to the high slot found Yaroslav Khaborov, and his shot found the back of the net after 61 minutes of play for the 1-0 overtime victory! METALLURG MAGNITOGORSK WINS 4-1.

So that will leave just two teams standing: the Russian-based Metallurg Magnitogorsk versus the Czech-based Lev Prague.
Magnitogorsk finished the season with 108 points to Lev's 99 points based on more regulation-time wins, but teams look pretty even when comparing stats. However, the two regular-season games saw Metallurg rally in the third period of both games to salvage points. The game on October 7, 2013 saw Metallurg rally from a 2-1 deficit and a 3-2 deficit in the third period to tie the game 3-3 before winning 4-3 in overtime. The January 5 game had Metallurg trailing 2-1 entering the third period before the Russian squad scored three times en route to a 4-2 win. Needless to say, Lev needs to be better at holding leads against Magnitka if they hope to win this series and their first Gagarin Cup!

The Gagarin Cup Final starts on April 18! We'll have a recap after the series is over, and we'll look at who won, who lost, who played well, and who did not!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Hand-Eye Coordination

Today's entry isn't going to be long-winded or overly-analytical in any way. Instead, I want to draw attention to #47 in the image to the left. That's Geoff Platt who was, at one point, a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Geoff's small stature didn't help him as he saw action in just 41 games with the Jackets, but the diminutive centerman has gone on to do bigger and better things in the KHL as a member of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. There are some other interesting facts about Platt we'll see in a second, but he showed some serious skill this past week in the Gagarin Cup Playoffs.

Down 3-1 in the series and 3-1 in Game Five of their Western Conference Final, Geoff Platt shows off some ridiculous hand-eye coordination along with a pile of concentration to control this puck and put it past Lev Prague's Petri Vehanen.
Wow. Simply amazing work by Platt on that goal to not only fend off the defenceman on his back, but to control that puck in the air and getting it to the front of the net where he batted it home past Vehanen. That, readers, is pure skill!

Platt, who was born in Toronto, Ontario, is just 28 years-old. We may yet get to see him in the Olympics in the future, though, because he's actually has dual citizenship! Much like Paul DiPietro who was born in Canada but played for Switzerland in 2006, Platt accepted Belarusian citizenship on February 26, 2012 after playing five years with Dinamo Minsk in Belarus!

HC Dinamo Minsk players Geoff Platt, Kevin Lalande and Charles Linglet - all Canadians - accepted Belarusian citizenship in 2012 in what appeared to be a play by the Belarusian government to try and get the Belarus national team into the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. In order to do so, the Belarusian government waived the naturalization process "in recognition of their outstanding service to the Republic of Belarus, high achievements in science, technology, culture and sports, or in respect of people who have the profession and qualifications that are of public interest for Belarus".

I'm not sure I'm fond of this idea, but it seems to be working out for Platt pretty well, so no harm, no foul, right? Geoff Platt's goal was a beauty, but Lokomotiv Yaroslavl would fall to Lev Prague 3-2 in that game, losing the series 4-1 in the process. HBIC will have all that information tomorrow!

Until then, keep your sticks on the ice!