Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NHL Superheroes? Wa wa what? Love it!

When I first heard about this idea I was like "COME ON!" The NHL trying something that the rest of the Big 4 pro leagues haven't already done twice over? And it will be a mix of pucks heritage & comics? Stan "The Man" Lee's involved...? WTF! Well call me insane (again...) but after seeing what's already been released and will be forthcoming, I for one am pretty "jacked and pumped" and happy to say that it's officially TRUE! As The NHL has announced that its fully collaborating with venerable comic book legend Stan "The Man" Lee on "The Guardian Project" in which each of the NHL's 30 clubs will be represented by it's own "Superhero" entity with the help one of the true giants in the field of superhero related comics, film and other forms of online mutimedia, Stan "The Man" Lee. So the man who gave us Spider-Man, the X-Men, and other now legendary characters has the great responsibility to help co-create these new characters through his newly launched POW! Entertainment company.

At the recent New York Comic Con that was held couple weeks ago, Lee himself was on hand to present "The Guardian Project" as part of a panel discussion along with NHL commish Gary Bettman. The above image served as nothing more than a teaser for the project but a closer look reveals more than a few clues on each of these soon to be reveled team-influenced heroes.

Coming up, the full details on what the Hell this project really is, as some glimpses of Stan Lee's NHL superheroes; a.k.a. You'll Believe That a Man Can Flyer. The description of "The Guardian Project," which will no doubt inspire confidence about the chances for its massive success included a statement to the effect of "This unprecedented partnership, deemed Guardian Media Entertainment (GME), takes a cutting-edge approach to animation as all content is being designed for multi platform media applications. The plans for the project include "comic books, a novel, mobile applications, TV and film"

According to a recent article from USA Today on the project; Organizers are keeping a lid for now on the powers and likenesses of The Guardians, with plans to reveal them individually over time on the enterprise's website ( before presenting them together at January's NHL All-Star game with each of the teams having a role in designing their clubs hero to reflect themselves, city and fan base.

Based on what's already been announced and that I've seen first hand, each hero will reflect the team itself, such as the Flyers being characterized by toughness (cheap shotting) the Montreal Canadiens by speed (and I assume the ability to flop at a moments notice...) the Toronto Maple Leafs by size and strength (and delusional fans) etc.,
Overall its been positioned that these NHL superheroes will work together and separately, although there will be friction between those representing traditional rivalries, such as that between the Flyers and the New York Rangers. With this in mind you've got to think that "Leafs Mans" superpower must be something like having the ability to massively disappoint for decades but somehow still lead the league in merchandise sales.

Personally I'm thinking that this innovative multi property effort will either be a HUGE hit or will quickly disappear with little notice but regardless I'll be sure to post more on this as well as any other info and photos of each of the individual teams "Heroes" as they are introduced. Until then though; Lets Go Broons! & "Excelsior! Bitches” -KingKrej46

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Game Day- VS Washington

I know what you're thinking....."finally, a damn game preview blog. What the hell has this slacker Kynch been doing?". Simple answer is, I've been slacking. Longer answer is, I was in Prague for the first two games, and let's just say internet availability there is a little sketchy (plus I really didn't feel like blogging from my phone, my sole source of internet access). Saturday, I was totally slacking, playing some golf on the Cape (Cape Cod for you out of towners!). But hey, that's the past. I'm here now and ready to give this a whirl. So let's jump right into it, shall we?

Let's see, when you play against the Caps, what is your first priority? Obviously, it's containing that Norris trophy shoe-in Karl Alzner, right? No? Oh, that's right. They DO have some kid named Ovechkin, who I think is going to turn into a decent NHL prospect one of these days. Maybe the B's should focus on him. And from all indications, that is exactly what coach Julien is doing. Looks like Chara and Seidenberg will be the top pairing again tonight, to slow down the Caps top line (just as they were paired together to stop New Jersey's top heavy first line). "OV" is off to his usual hot start, potting 4G & 4A in Washington's first 5 games. He has a point in every contest. As goes Ovechkin, so go the Caps. As Tim Thomas (tonight's likely starter) mentioned, it seems as though when Ovechkin is flying, the rest of his team follows suit. If you slow him down, the others tend to lose a step as well. Sounds like a simple plan, but it's easier said than done. On the bright side, even if Washington, as the home team, is able to avoid Chara/Seidenberg with creative line changes, the Bruins may still be OK. In the preseason game, where the B's played very short handed, Johnny Boychuck had a HUGE game against Ovechkin. I lost track of how many times OV was thwarted in one on one situations against Johnny B. Even the Caps announcers were raving about his play. Let's hope that translates to tonight.

But Ovechkin, despite being the ring leader of that circus, is far from the only threat. Semin and Backstrum are both deadly in their own right. The B's catch something of a break, as it appears Mike Green will sit this one out. Not that I'm a fan of Green, as I think he is HORRIBLE in his own end, but some of the Caps fast break offense is missing without him in the lineup. However, the Caps have a suitable replacement for him, in Natick Ma.'s own John Carlson. The rookie is second in team scoring, with 1G & 5A.

From the Boston side of things, you can't ask for much more balance than they got Saturday against the Devils. After playing a sloppy first period, the B's rallied with four goals in the second period. One from each line. Tough to beat that, and makes for some match-up issues for Bruce Boudreau & company. If the Bruins play their simple, defense first style, they can absolutely beat the Caps, or anyone else. When they fail to pay attention to detail, like game one in Prague, they're very beatable. I expect nothing short of a solid effort from them tonight, as they're well aware this is their first real"test". They've played a struggling Devils squad, and a hit or miss Coyotes team. Tonight, they get to prove themselves against some of the iron in the Eastern conference.

Washington went out and got tough guy DJ King from St. Louis this off season. King is a legit middle-heavyweight. IF he's in the Caps lineup tonight, you can bank on him paying Shawn Thornton a visit. This is one of those match-ups that I love for Thornton. Should be a very entertaining bout when (and if) these two get together. Both love to trade punches, and in my book are fairly evenly matched. DJ King, while tough, isn't the kind of guy I was talking about when I praised the B's for signing McGrattan. This is the type of fighter Thornton should handle (or possibly Lucic, depending on the situation).
Whether King is in the lineup or not, I also wouldn't be surprised if former B's prospect Matt Hendricks drops the gloves as well. Hendricks is no heavyweight, but has definitely shown a willingness to "go". My gut tells me he does tonight, and Mark Stuart is the one to oblige him.


Well, since I've always been SO accurate with my predictions, I figured I'd keep it going this year. I see the Bruins winning this one (shocking, I know). Look for a 3-2 game, with Horton, Bergeron and Chara your scorers for the good guys. On the other side, old friend Mike Knuble scores against us, if for no other reason than he ALWAYS seems to score against the B's. Going off the map a bit with their other goal, but I see Eric Fehr getting it.
Keep your elbow tucked,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pucks & Pivo

Well, it's been awhile since I've posted anything, so I apologize for that. I was hoping to have a report from the Belfast game, but it looks like my Irish correspondent is still recovering (or still drunk). If he's able to give us the Irish perspective on that game, I'll post it. For now, I'll jump into my Prague experience a bit.

As everyone who has ever been to Prague will tell you, it is an absolutely beautiful city. The architecture, the history...all amazing. The people, while not exactly the "warmest" you'll ever meet are certainly not threatening in any way. You may not always feel "welcome", but neither do you feel overly "unwanted". But a funny thing happens when you get away from the heavily touristy areas. The people, especially late at night in one of the pubs, which seem to be every fifty feet or so, let their hair down in a big way. The gruff exterior of a long oppressed people is gone. Replaced with a fun loving attitude that can only come from a people who have known life when freedom, self expression and simple joys were a foreign idea. Bottom line, this is a population making up for lost time. Boy oh boy, are they making up for lost time.

It can feel at times that you've stepped into a time warp, and landed in a suburban mall somewhere in the US in the mid-80's. The fashion, the hair (they're HUGE fans of the mullet) and the music all scream 80's. Of course, like all their music, every 80's song they play seems to have the same annoying "dance mix-techno pop" treatment applied to it. Oddly, though most places etc played that awful techno garbage, the pubs with live music featured American jazz and blues. Let's just say I was a bit surprised walking into a neighborhood pub only to find a Dixieland Jazz band playing. Should have known then that things were going to be "interesting".

American "culture" is taking hold here, as evidenced by our most prominent food. Everywhere you look, KFC (some serving beer of course), McDonalds & Subway are intermingled with the more traditional Czech establishments. Shame too, because the Czech's actually have some very good food of their own.....albeit a bit heavy. Seems every menu item is tailor made to cure a hangover. Not surprising for a country that consumes more beer, by a mile, than any other. When incredibly tasty and fresh beer literally costs less than a soda, you can see why (roughly $1-$1.50USD).

OK, enough of the Travel Channel stuff. What about the game experience? Well, I only went to game one. I think we can all agree that from a hockey entertainment standpoint, that was pretty pathetic. I don't know who those guys in the B's jerseys were, but they certainly the team I was expecting to see.

As far as experience, it was great. The first thing that stands out is how many NHL fans were there. Not Bruins or Coyote fans (although to their credit, Phoenix did have a very large representation). I think every team in the NHL was represented by local Czech (and other Eastern Europeans) fans. So many different game jerseys, with their wearers proudly sporting painted faces, it was a bit bizarre. But they were hugely into hockey, no matter who was playing. Shame the NHL charged their usual NHL rates for the game, as this left the average Czech fan out in the cold. In my section, we were probably the only four speaking English. The rest was a mix of Czech, German, Austrian and any number of other languages. Many in attendance owed their allegiance to one team or another based solely on which, if any, of their countrymen played for them. Which explains how the Austrian next to me felt no hesitation being a Bruins fan, yet also being a big Sabres fan....because Tomas Vanek is "our best player" (as in, Austria's best). My attempt to sway him based on the behavior of Buffalo players and fans was futile. Oh well.

The O2 arena itself is very nice. It's sort of in the middle of nowhere, but the area seems to be going through some development, so there may be more pre and post-game eating and drinking options soon. I hope so, because the "bowling club" we had a beer at was a bit....sketchy.The pub where we ate was also one of the very few where NOBODY spoke or understood a word of English. But at least it's right off the train stop, so it's easy to get to (the Prague transit system is great...once you get the hang of it).

Having every person entering the building go through a metal detector is a little time consuming, and makes getting in a pain, but safety first I guess. Once inside, it wasn't much different than any other arena. The concourses all seemed like they could be slightly larger, and the beer was the much more expensive than at the bars (of course "expensive" is a relative term. Arena beers cost roughly $2.25....still much better than the Garden's $7-$8!).You know you're in Europe, when between periods the place absolutely empties out.....yet the concourse is oddly quiet. Yep, everyone was in the smoking area.

As far as game presentation, I'm kind of torn. Was it cool that the Bruins, as the "home team", were able to have their PA announcer present? Sure. But I also was looking forward to a 100% "Czech experience". They did announce everything in English and Czech, so that was OK. One thing I did enjoy was, no matter how hard they tried getting the crowd going with those foolish "noise" or "get loud" signs on the score board, the locals wouldn't bite. Give them a REASON to cheer, they will. TELL them to, not going to happen. But I really enjoyed it when they took THEIR chants, and applied them to OUR teams. Let's just say, the four of us at least, will be doing everything we can to carry their "Bos-TONE (clap clap clap)" chant to the Garden this season....and yes, you do have to do it with the accent.

Game two saw us watching from a downtown pub. When looking for a bar to watch a hockey game, I guess you can't do much better than a place called "Hockey Bar". So that's where we went. It wasn't as busy as we had expected, but before long we did have the various Czech, Germans, Austrian's and whoever else was there cheering for our beloved boys in Black & Gold. Fortunately, they gave us reason to be proud. THAT is how they have to play to be successful.

So what did I take away from the actual games? Let's see...
1)If they don't play a smart, aggressive style they have no chance. Soft passes, poor decisions and defensive confusion reigned in game one. And they blown out because of it.

2)when they skate, they win. Game 2 was a complete 180 from the previous day. They outworked the 'Yotes, so they won. Simple as that.

3)Nathan Horton could very well be everything the scouts thought he was supposed to be when he was drafted. Put him in a stable environment, with solid teammates and a focused coach and he could be one of the top scorers in the NHL. Deadly wrist shot, quick release, good size and the willingness to use it. He makes Boston a dangerous team, and should open things up for other lines.

4)I'm going to like the B's 4th line. I already like Thornton, that's obvious. But Campbell, I think, is a guy we're all going to learn to love. Hard worker, stand up guy, and has more skill than most 4th liners. He should be fun to watch. And with any of Paille, Marchand or McGrattan riding the other wing spot, there are a few different looks Julien could throw out there night to night. Personally, I'm already looking forward to McGrattan's first game as a Bruin.

5)The Tuukka-Timmy "situation" is going to be interesting to watch. While Tuukka certainly didn't get any help in his start, he also wasn't exactly on his game. Worse, his little tantrum after the second period (not sure if it was visible on TV) shows me that he's still got a good dose of that petulant, whiny little kid in him. Has anyone ever heard him say ANYTHING was his fault? Didn't think so, yet I've heard him plenty of times talk about the team in front of him. Timmy, on the other hand, looked sharp all day. And contrary to Tuukka, when Timmy gets pissed off, he plays better. He handles it himself, and takes ownership. This battle is going to be fun, and yes's actually OK to pull for BOTH of them. They're both trying to do the same job for our team, no reason to hate one or the other.

6)The kids are alright (wow....that's an over used line, even by my standards). Seguin's speed is impressive to say the least (not nearly as impressive as Kynch's Korner contributor Angela's timing though...she no sooner got the words "has anyone else been impressed by Seguin's speed?" out her mouth when he broke away for his first NHL goal). He'll make his share of mistakes, but his pure talent will get him off the hook for a lot of it. Jordan Caron may also open a lot of eyes. He's looked like a veteran since day one of camp. Now, I'm not trying to say he's going to be a Rookie Of The Year candidate or anything, but I can't help but think back to Joe Thornton's rookie year. All the hype (rightfully so) was on "Jumbo Joe". But Sergei Samsonov walked away with ROY honors. Again, NO...I don't think Caron will even be in that conversation. I just think at the end of the year, he may make a much bigger impact than most expected.

7)I didn't think it was possible, but I like Patrice Bergeron even more now. Everything about him oozes class. From the way he works on the ice, to the way he's clearly mentoring Seguin. From his vast community involvement, to his desire to remain a Bruin, and his willingness to take less money to stay here. This kid is the kind of guy every franchise needs, but most will never know. Take a moment to enjoy this guy folks, he's a special one.

Well, that's it for now. Still trying to get back on Boston time. With the next game not until Saturday, I should be fully recovered by then. In the mean time, I'll gather my thoughts and try to put something a bit more coherent for my next post. What can I say? Too many Pivo's!