Category Archives: hockey

A lackluster competitiveness and the drive to improve (or lack thereof)

I was going to be critical of Edmonton, Alberta, and Canadian hockey fans who have gone to social media to protest Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli after the Oilers were flambéed by the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

I was. Past tense.

If you’re an Oilers fan and see this and get pissed off at the would-be criticism, relax. Really. You’re reacting to a shit situation that’s been ongoing under different guidance for too-long now. You’re reacting as you should.  Do Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans do that? No so much.

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Attendance in Tampa Bay sports sides with the might of the Lightning

Tonight is the 20th home game of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2018-19 season, the second-to-last home game event of the year 2018 as well. I’ve already heralded the accomplishments of the Bolts first-half in on-ice achievement. Now let me shed light on an aspect of the Bolts off-ice. Something Tampa Bay sports media gives the brush-off in overall coverage in town.

Amalie Arena’s stated max capacity is 19,204, and the Lightning has filled the building at or near capacity for their 19 games at home so far this season. That’s a home-capacity total attendance of 362,748 (you can view full attendance numbers for the NHL here, via ESPN). That’s a pretty damned solid turnout; the Bolts are 5th in the NHL in attendance.

Now, how ‘bout dem Bucs? The much heralded, over-promoted in Tampa Bay news, over-hyped Tampa Bay Buccaneers team have been meh in their season performance, a 5-10 record. Raymond James Stadium’s max capacity is 65,890 and the Bucs haven’t quite made it to capacity too often. After 7 home games, the Bucs average attendance is 54,567, 82% OF CAPACITY AND fourth weakest in the NFL this season (view the full attendance numbers here). It’s the season total attendance number that’s of most note: 381,971.

The Lightning should meet that attendance total tonight as they host the Philadelphia Flyers. They’ll exceed the total with the final 2018 home game against the Montréal Canadiens on Saturday. The Bucs will, of course, top that number with their final home game against the Atlanta Falcons… But the Lightning will top that total-attendance number early in 2019. C’mon, their averaging 19,000 a game, the finale at Ray Jay will bring 54,000 (give or take). The Bolts will make up that differential in three games at the Amalie.

There are many aspects that can be brought up to factor in with attendance (ticket prices, economy issues), but the one aspect that tops it all: this is common. 41 home dates will do that for an NHL team.  41 home dates will do that. The Lightning are still a dominant presence in the NHL while the Bucs are a dominant topic in Tampa Bay sports media coverage while mediocre in performance.

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Filed under football, hockey, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Lightning

Alex Ovechkin, Vladimir Putin, and the mired line of sports and politics

I’ve always favored the Washington Capitals Alexander Ovechkin when it comes to the prominent players of the NHL in the last decade. It has to do with character and showing more depth than just being a player. He’s a person and a silly one at that.  And I’m talking off-ice stuff here, not just around-the-game shenanigans common in the NHL.

There’s more than that old commercial out there, but hunting down the off-ice stuff is tough when his hockey things take video priority.

This, his character,  comes chiefly in comparison to Sidney Crosby who has always come off as a stolid, cold figure. Crosby’s biggest feat is inspiring antics from rivals. Like Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban taking a fresh breath into a Stanley Cup Finals game.

As for Ovechkin, things are souring for me somewhat. It’s not because of on-ice incidents or the Capitals in general. It’s not Brayden Point-vs.-Ovechkin in the NHL goal-scoring race. It’s not sports at all. It’s politics and awareness of Ovi’s political allegiance to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Filed under Donald Trump Presidency, hockey, Politics, Sports

The Lightning storm of the 2018-19 NHL first-half

There are many in-depth details to go through with the Tampa Bay Lightning season so far in the 2018-2019 NHL season; they haven’t even reached the midway point of the regular season but the club in setting records and living at the top… Y’know, they’re a dominant storm.

How dominant? It’s one number that has led to this posting, one number that people would sooner forget or brush off. It’s a number that deep sports fans should be taken aback by, though: A .756 win percentage.

After their 6-3 victory in Edmonton on Saturday, Tampa Bay’s season record is 28-7-2. 28 wins in 37 games played. Now do the math with that win percentage and you see the Lightning are on a pace for 62 wins in 82 games played. That’s one hell of a first half.

Now, the cold-water factor: You can’t and shouldn’t expect things to keep riding this high. Injuries were already overcome early this season but hey could easily thwart things in the months to come. The NHL’s silly-season is forthcoming, where physical play nadc altercations become more regular. That could easily factor in and spoil the party at Amalie Arena.

It also obliterates the franchise record for wins in a season; it’s 12 games better than the 50-win season of 2014-15.

And, of course, this doesn’t mean shit when the playoffs arrive. The proverbial second-season is just that, a second chance to shine for all remaining and contending clubs.

The Bolts last three games of 2018 and the first half of the NHL season are split between Eastern and Western Conference clubs. The Lightning host the Flyers and Les Habitants De Montréal before heading west to California . They’ll face the Anaheim Ducks on New Year’s Eve; something to take in if you’re not in the mood to watch the ball drop or partying with friends.

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Louis Domingue has served the Lightning well in a time of backstop need

When Louis Domingue was claimed by the Tampa Bay Lightning last season, I was taken aback because I recalled seeing the goaltender draw attention to himself by way of performances for the Arizona Coyotes. At the time, I thought he was due to become the eventual replacement for ‘Yotes goaltender (and former Bolt) Mike Smith while also stepping into a slot of elitism that former Coyote (and Lightning alumnus) Nikolai Khabibulin once held.

What the hell put Domingue on waivers to begin with is a story I didn’t know. It’s a story I’m not getting into here. I’m getting into the now .…

With the injury to Andrei Vasilevskiy, Dommer has become the Bolts starting netminder. I can’t say everything has been perfect for him in net… in fact, I’ve seen a lot of fan criticism toward him. Comparisons to Marc Denis(who served in net during Lightning 2006-07 and 2007-2008; 54 games total, a tenure-average GAA of 3.62 and a .871 save percentage). That criticism was born in October, well before Vasy’sinjury, with Domingue’s return start and flop against the Coyotes.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning thrives while the Tampa Bay media look elsewhere in sports

Late this summer, before the NFL season was underway, the Tampa Bay Times did the Tampa Bay-media thing and played up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers season ahead. “Most talented offense ever?” discussion before a regular season game had been played seemed like… well, an attempt to raise expectations.

I’m not here to judge the Buccaneer season as it nears a conclusion, I’m here to ask about the Tampa Bay Lightning.

See, with that hype about the Bucs, there hasn’t been the same headline-priority work for the Bolts in the Tampa Bay media, at least not from what I’ve seen. All while the Bolts are doing what counters Tampa Bay college and pro sports teams most of the time: Winning and winning. And winning.

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Filed under Personal, Sports, Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Lightning

Reacting to chatter of expanding the NHL playoffs

A season in professional sports is played with the intention of winning a championship. That’s basic sport, ain’t it? You play a regular season with the hope of making it to the proverbial second-season: The playoffs. To make it to the post-season, to contend during the marathon of the regular season, is an accomplishment unto itself, and to go further is the dream.

In the NFL with its short 16 game season, only 12 of the league’s 32 teams make it to the playoffs. In Major League Baseball, after the grueling 162 game season, only eight of the league’s 30 teams make it to the second-season. The NBA and NHL are both 82-game regular season leagues, they’re also passing 16 teams to the playoffs each season. The key difference is the NHL has 31 teams (and soon to be 32) while the NBA has 30.

The NFL and MLB formats make the playoffs a divine achievement by itself. The NBA and NHL have an open format to contention… And there’s talk in the NHL about expanding the contender option.

I cringe at the notion. Continue reading

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The bitterness of politics meets the cold of ice hockey

2018 election year campaign contest… Nikita Kucherov vs. Jack Eichel. Seeing I’m a Kucherov supporter, I’m sharing his ad here.

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by | November 1, 2018 · 3:40 PM

Just where did Rusty Fedotenko go? I’m glad you asked!!

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by | October 18, 2018 · 10:08 AM

Personal note: I’ve taken back “Boltsmag”

Just a heads up:

When I started blogging about hockey, the posts were published on Boltsmag.com. Upon me founding Raw Charge, I pointed the domain name at the new SB Nation site. All my archives are posted over there, after all. It’s been set up like that since 2009.

With the two-year anniversary of my resignation from the network and with me posting re-direct links to Raw Charge archived articles I wrote there, I’ve decided to redirect the Boltsmag domain name toward my hockey post category here on JohnnyFonts.com.

I don’t know if anyone even knows of the domain name, let alone uses it. If you do use that domain, this post should explain why you’ve landed on this blog site and not on Raw Charge.

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