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    NHL 2008-09 シーズン

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 August 18日 Monday

    先月ですが、NHL の2008-09 シーズンのスケジュール発表されましたね

    今季のハイライトは:

    • 10/4-5 に欧州で開幕。スウェーデンのストックホルムでは急成長中のピッツバーグ・ペンギンズ対落ち気味のオタワ・セネタース。チェコのプラハでは、タレント揃いのタンパベイ・ライトニング対古豪NYレンジャーズ。それぞれのチームは、地元のチームとプレシーズンマッチを組んでいます(レンジャーズは初のビクトリアカップで欧州王者との対戦も組まれている)。
    • 名門モントリオール・カナディエンズの創立100周年記念シーズン。
    • 11/8-10 にトロントでホッケー殿堂祭
    • 正月に2009 Winter Classic。シカゴ・カブスの本拠地で、風情たっぷりなリグレー・フィールドで、若いタレント揃いの古豪復活シカゴ・ブラックホークスが、スタンレーカップ覇者のバランスの良いデトロイト・レッドウィングスを迎え撃つ。映像や写真が楽しみです。
    • 1/24-25 モントリオールでオールスター・ウィーケンド。
    • 地区内相手の試合数が年8試合から6試合に減少。これで毎年全チームが多カンファレンスの全チームと1試合はする事になる。良い事です。
    • レギュラーシーズンは2008/10/4 – 2009/4/12

    Posted in 01_日本語, hockey, information, NHL, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Information for visitors to Sapporo Tsukisamu Arena

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 March 21日 Friday

    Some information about the Tsukisamu Arena in Sapporo, Japan where the 2008 IIHF World Championship Division I Group B games will be held.

    Chances are your mobile phone won’t work in Japan because Japan uses a proprietory cell system. Even overseas 3G phones won’t work just by inserting Japanese SIM cards (though things may have changed recently, so check with your local carrier). Very inconvenient for visitors, I know.

    Tsukisamu Arena has a capacity of about 3000 (this year’s AL games drew close to 2900).

    Here are some pictures of the arena:

    tst1.jpg

    dsc00521.jpg

    I recommend staying in the Susukino area of Sapporo, as that’s where the nightlife is, and it’s only 4 metro stops away from the Tsukisamu-Chuo station where the arena is situated (a 3 minute walk) on the Toho metro line.

    map

    All weekday Japan games are scheduled at 8pm, so I expect a good crowd for those games (not sure about preordering tickets). But I don’t expect much of a crowd for the other games, as Sapporo’s not a hockey town (there are some nice mountains nearby, so skiing and snowboarding are more popular) and Japanese people tend not to take many holidays.

    For the Japan team preview, most of my Asia League summary is here already:
    https://jhockey.wordpress.com/category/hockey/asia-league-ice-hockey/

    If I have the time I’ll try to do a Team Japan preview once the roster’s announced.

    Posted in 02_English, culture, food, hockey, information, International, Japan | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

    Oji wins 2008 AL Finals!

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 March 20日 Thursday

    Congratulations to Oji Paper Ice Hockey Team, the 2008 Asia League Ice Hockey champions!

    3rd place finisher in the regular season, Oji convincingly won the championship, going undefeated in the playoffs reeling off 9 straight victories. Oji let in 2 or less goals in every game but 1 (the 10-5 shootout semifinal win over High1). Goalie Haruna was outstanding throughout the playoffs, and it was no different in the deciding game as he stopped 33 of 35 Cranes shots in the 3-2 win. With a 1.89 GAA, only allowing 17 goals on 221 SOG for a very solid 92.3% save percentage, he probably deserves the finals and playoff MVPs. He outplayed McLennan in the finals, Jamie had been having an excellent playoffs up until that point with a 92% save percentage going into the finals and he had singlehandedly won games for the Cranes, but in the end Haruna was the man.

    This was the first AL championship for Oji (every final before this year featured the Cranes v. Seibu/Kokudo), and the last time Oji won the league was the Japan Ice Hockey League way back in 1994. Congrats Oji!

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    2008 IHWC Div I Group B in Sapporo

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 March 18日 Tuesday

    It’s amazing that this all East European (except for Japan) tournament is being held in Japan at all. I wonder what went down in the host city nomination and the subsequent voting process.

    The tournament will run from 13-19 April at Tsukisamu Arena in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan and the other participating teams are Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, and Hungary.

    This is Japan’s best chance to win the dvision and qualify for the top group, playing in front of the home crowd, and having ECHL regulars G Fukufuji (unimpressive .891 save percentage this season, but he’s on one of the worst teams in the league so all goalies at Bakersfield are sporting a sub-.900 mark after posting better numbers in previous seasons) and F Nishiwaki (14+16=30 pts in 54 games so far, but was one of the leading goal scorers in the AL the two previous seasons) on the national team with their ECHL clubs slated to miss the playoffs. ECHL season runs to the first week of April, so these two will be able to join the national team for this Div I tournament at home that’ll run from 13-19 April. Oji goalie Haruna has been having a fantastic AL playoffs, posting 1.88 GAA and .924 save % so far in 8 games, and he’s had some success in international tournies if my memory’s correct. And Seibu’s Kikuchi, who is always solid in Asia, is also available, so Japan should be solid in goal, hopefully the porous defense from last year’s tournament has somehow been improved, but I don’t see how.

    Other interesting candidates remaining on the Japan team selection squad (down to 30 now, but there will be further cuts before the start of the tournament to get down to regulation size) are D Okubo playing for High1 of the Korean entry to the AL, he totally drove their offense this past season, and led AL defensemen in assists and points. University kids D Haga of university champs Toyo University (who scored a hat trick in the university championship finals), D Yanatori of finalist Meiji Univ., and F Kuji of Waseda University are also included in the selection camp. Other players are the usual suspects from AL teams including naturalized Canadian born veteran players (all Japanese descent Nikkeis) D Aaron Keller (Oji), F Ryan Kiyoshi Fujita (Seibu), and F Darcy Mitani (Cranes).

    Interestingly, the national team will play two warm up games again Amur Khavarovsk (the B team, I assume). 1 April at Tomakomai Hakucho Arena, and 3 April at Sapporo Tsukisamu Areana, both games start at 19:00.

    The 30 man selection camp squad (in Japanese).

    IIHF website for this tournament.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, ECHL, hockey, information, International, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    KHL: The Russian answer to the NHL

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 March 14日 Friday

    A good roundup on Eurohockey.net about the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) that will replace the Russian Super League in Russia. The league aims to expand beyond Russia, and already have a Kazakhstani club Barys Astana join the league, and there are rumours about Jokerit Helsinki of Finland as well. The league will operate with 24 teams, but only have 22 teams committed so far. It will be interesting to see who the other 2 teams will be.

    I’m not quite keen on the division idea that will have ever changing divisions according to team strength (like in the soccer World Cup, teams are put into a pool, and drawn out of a hat, lottery style to determine the divisions). At least locking in the divisions for 3-5 years would create some consistency since the divisions are not geographical anyways.

    The salary cap of approximately $24 million per team will be enough to retain and regain some (marginal) Russian talent from the NHL. The salary power balance is reminiscent of the balance between MLB and NPB. Unless the KHL really takes off and can bring salary levels up to near-NHL levels (though it’s already pretty impressive at nearly half), it won’t be a truly competitive league (like in soccer with the English, Spanish, and Italian leagues). But it’s a good start, let’s hope the league has a financially viable business model.

    Incorporating drafts and player exchange trades into Europe will be a really interesting sports business experiment.

    Posted in 02_English, hockey, information, International, NHL, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    2008 AL semifinals result and finals preview

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 March 11日 Tuesday

    Games 3 and 4 of the 2008 Asia League Ice Hockey semifinals were played last week.

    2008.3.5 Oji 4 – 1 High1

    (Oji wins series 3-0)

    2008.3.5 Cranes 7 – 2 Seibu

    2008.3.6 Cranes 2 – 1 Seibu

    (Cranes win series 3-1)

    Oji handily swept the 2nd place team in the regular season High1, outscoring them by an aggregate of 17-8 in the 3 games. High1 seems to have gone down without much of a fight (except for game 2), the team’s definitely got potential, so I’m hoping for a better playoff performance from them next season. Oji makes its first ever AL final (it has been Cranes – Seibu (Kokudo) every season in this league’s brief existence). For this once glorious team that won numerous Japan League and Japanese Championship titles, this could be a return to glory (though, getting to avoid Seibu and the Cranes leading up to the finals was probably the biggest blessing). Oji’s last Japan League title came in 1994, so they’ll be gunning for the trophy for sure.

    Cranes vs Seibu, this has been the staple of Asial League championship every season (and in Japan League championships leading upto the creation of the Asia League in 2003). Yet again, the Cranes won a playoff series on the back of their new goalie Jamie McLennan. Though the Cranes demolished Seibu 7-2 in game 3, McLennan won game 4 all by himself making 36 saves in the 2-1 win to seal the series at home while in Kushiro, Hokkaido. He has been absolutely stellar throughout the playoffs posting 93.75% save percentage in round 1 against Halla, and a 92.8% save percentage against the most explosive offense in the league in Seibu in the semifinals. Other than getting involved in some rough stuff in game 2 and taking some penalties that led to Seibu power play goals, Jamie has been just amazing. If he keeps his cool, the Cranes can take the Hokkaido derby final and defend their AL title. Oji’s best bet to dethrone the champions may be to get under McLennan’s skin. After all, a goalie fresh out of the NHL (he was a backup only last season) is well above the level of play in this league (AL is probably a similar in level to a less physical ECHL).

    Semifinals games 1 and 2 review.

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, NHL, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    North Korean hockey website

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 March 6日 Thursday

    Wow, a website about North Korean ice hockey! (DPRK Hockey) Not much information there yet, but just the rink is fascinating.

    Here’s the usual chummy photo op from when North and South Korean teams face off against eachother in various sports.

    Posted in 02_English, hockey, information, International | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    2008 AL semifinals games 1-2

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 March 3日 Monday

    Asia League Ice Hockey completed its first 2 games of the semifinal series this past weekend. Results were (home teams listed first):

    2008.3.1 Seibu 2 – 3 Cranes

    2008.3.1 High1 5 – 10 Oji

    2008.3.2 Seibu 4 – 1 Cranes

    2008.3.2 High1 2 – 3 Oji

    So, Seibu and the Cranes split the games in Tokyo and head up to Hokkaido with the Cranes now having earned the home advantage with games 3 and 4 taking place up in Kushiro.

    Oji pounded 10 goals into the High1 net despite only having 30 shots on net (33% shooting percentage!) in game 1. High1 finally pulled the starting goalie Eum (who had a solid regular season with 90.9% save percentage) after 32 minutes when he let in the 6th goal. High1 came back much sharper in game 2 with the 1 goal loss, but was still outshot 36-24. Defenseman Okubo was involved in both High1 goals, but was also on the ice for all 3 even strength Oji goals, so maybe the Japan national team candidate’s offensive prowess does come with a price.

    Both teams with first round byes seemed to have been rusty coming off the long break in the schedule, as the league wrapped up its regular season on 27 January, and the top 2 teams didn’t see playoff action until 1 March, a month later (Seibu had the 3 Japanese championship games inbetween, but High1 was forced to play practice matches against local university teams to stay in game shape).

    I attended the game 1 between Seibu and the Cranes in Higashifushimi, Tokyo. Seibu had solid rushes up the ice time and again in the first 2 periods, but hardly any of them led to quality scoring chances or shots. Then, as things came together for the team in the 3rd, Jamie McLennan was there to slam the door shut with one great save after another. McLennan deservedly won the game MVP. Seibu won game 2 convincingly by 3 goals, but all 5 goals in the game were scored on the power play (and only 1 Seibu goal was with a man advantage, the other 4 goals were scored with 2 man advantages!), so maybe this means Seibu hasn’t figured out McLennan yet, so it will be interesting to see what happens in games 3 and 4.

    Some photos from game 1:

    Cranes before the game started

    Cranes before the game.

    Tyson Nash with the playoff beard

    Tyson Nash (looks like a playoff beard, but he’s had it since shortly after he landed in Japan)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, information, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

    Jamie McLennan in Beijing and AL semifinal mini preview

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 February 22日 Friday

    Some interesting observations from Jamie about the Asia League. I’ve seen games in Korea but not in China, so first hand reports like this are neat (from his blog entry at The Hockey News):

    Secondly, in 17 years as a pro hockey player I’d like to claim I’ve had many experiences and would say I’ve seen it all when it came to what this game has to offer. But I broke out laughing in amazement six minutes into the game when I spotted the goal judge behind the net, smoking, with an ashtray on the boards and carrying on like he’s watching the game from his living room couch.

    It was awesome. I’m not condoning the smoking issue, but it was a very unique sight to see someone involved in a sport actively lighting a dart while the play is on. There were plumes of smoke everywhere around him, like he’d actually see a goal if it went in. It was so crazy; I thought it was worth mentioning. It was one of those things that if you didn’t see for yourself, you wouldn’t believe.

    Haha, pretty funny stuff. The level of professionalism really varies throughout the countries in this league. Looks like Jamie was needed in the second game though, as the undermanned Cranes managed to somehow lose to the lowly China Sharks by the score of 6-5 (who only won 3 out of 30 games all season to finish dead last).

    The Cranes just swept Anyang Halla in 3 games (best of 5 series) to advance to the semifiinals of the AL playoffs. But all 3 games were decided by one goal, so it looks like the series could have gone either way (I didn’t get to see any games, but shots on goal were fairly even). Now I’ll get to see McLennan, Nash, and Co. in action against the Seibu Prince Rabbits when they open the semifinals here in Tokyo on 1 March.

    The other semifinal features Oji, who handily swept the underpowered Bucks, against High1, the first non-Japanese team to finigh the regular season with such a good record (2nd). Both Seibu and High1 had byes in the first round, they should be well prepared for the semis. The Cranes fortunes rest on McLennan’s shoulders, as the team’s been inconsistent all season and Seibu is a solid squad with no obvious weaknesses. Oji – High1 should be a very even and interesting series. I’d like to see High1 win and become the first non-Japanese team to make it to the AL final, but this series is a real tough call.

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    Jamie McLennan and Tyson Nash with the Nippon Paper Cranes

    Posted by japanstats on 2008 February 15日 Friday

    So, ex-NHLers Jamie McLennan and Tyson Nash, who are good friends, joined the Nippon Paper Cranes of the AL. For Jamie to finish off his career in an interesting land halfway around the world, for both of them to experience Japan and East Asia, for the different culture and hockey style and hopefully bring back the AL championship trophy to Kushiro again.

    McLennan has been very solid in the regular season since joining the team halfway through the season. Posting 92.05 Save % (good enough for 1st in the league among goalies who faced over 100 shots) and 2.50 GAA in 14 games (it’s a 30 game regular season, but there’s also an open FA Cup style knockoff championship, and national team players compete in international tournaments during IIHF international breaks. And of course, there’s the playoffs too, so the season’s longer than 30 games, much longer for some players, though nowhere near the unnecessarily grueling 100 game NHL schedule if you count the playoffs.) Tyson Nash injured his knee right away, so he only got into 5 games and scored 1 goal and 16 PIM while still getting accustomed to the less physical play of the league.

    mclennan

    nash

    These two are a definite improvement upon the cheap imports that the Cranes started the season with (perhaps being perennial champions or finalists made them overconfident?) and can definitely be a force in the upcoming playoffs which follow the disappointing regular season by the Cranes.

    What I didn’t know was that both Jamie and Tyson have online presence (I guess this shouldn’t be such a surprise these days) and are chronicling their journey through Japan and Asian hockey. These two guys seem easy going, if not a little too rambunctious for the ordinarily reserved Japanese (when not drunk), but it looks like they’re fully enjoying their life in countryside Hokkaido. And this provides a nice contrast to the infamous Ballads of Jason Johnson, a pro baseball player. Perhaps “hockey players are the most down to earth big money pro athletes” isn’t just Canadian propaganda 😛 After all, McLennan, Nash, and Johnson were never star players in the big leagues.

    Some interesting snippets of Jamie’s blog (some to The Hockey News no less) and other articles.

    From his first article to THN:

    I was going to retire this summer and pursue other interests in hockey when I received offers in Europe and Russia. I took an offer in Russia and was there for six weeks when I decided that it wasn’t for me and we parted ways (another long story but not for this article).

    Taking some time off was what I was doing when I was approached by my best buddy from growing up, Joel Dyck, who has been playing in Japan for 14 years and he told me I should come and play with him on his team to have a little fun and finish our careers together.

    So, Jamie was in Russia but things didn’t work out for him there (can’t find his Russian stats at eurohockey.net).

    And he’s long time friends with Japan and Asia League veteran and erstwhile Japanese national team player Joel Oshiro Dyck (he’s part Japanese descent who obtained Japanese passport a while back) from their junior days in Alberta. So, this was why McLennan and Nash came over as midseason replacement imports to the Cranes. Imports that come to play in Asia always arrive via the Asian-North American or Asian-European hockey pipelines.

    From an Ottawa Citizen article via tysonnash.com:

    “Five minutes before the games, the entire building is dead silent. No one says a word. Then we come on the ice and they go crazy. There are no anthems. We just bow to each side of the stands, then, after the game, we do it again. But the fans seem to really love the game.”

    McLennan says the level of hockey is surprisingly good, somewhere between the East Coast Hockey League and the American Hockey League. He doesn’t want to say what he’s getting paid, but I’m told it is in the neighborhood of $200,000 a year, and the team takes care of all his expenses.

    Anthems aren’t played for domestic matches, but that’s just a minor detail. Interesting that he notices this though.

    The comment about the level of play is valuable, as it is a good measuring stick (along with statistics). Though, AL probably shares the same lack of depth problem as NPB. The top players may be near AHL level (many Japanese players have succeeded in the ECHL), but the third and fourth line guys probably won’t even make an ECHL roster. The money’s interesting too, as it’s not public information. I heard somewhere that Prpic is getting about $300,000. This is better than what these players can earn in most of Europe (maybe except for Russia, and Switzerland?).

    “It has been a wild experience,” McLennan says from his hotel room in Sapporo, where he has just made 26 saves in a 5-1 Paper Cranes victory against the Oji Ice Hockey Team (That’s their real nickname by the way: “Ice Hockey Team.” Did they hold a “Name the Team” contest to come up with that? Why not the Oji Whiz? The Oji Simpsons? The Oji Wan-kenobis? Work with me, people.)

    Everyone seems to get this wrong, but “Nippon Paper” is the company and the team name is the “Cranes”. Though, the paper cranes wordplay may have been involved when deciding on the nickname. And Oji really needs to be called the Eagles. Heck, one of their uniforms already features the eagle mascot (their other more traditional uni is a Habs tribute bleu, blanc, et rouge).

    eagles

    oji_cranes

    From Jamie’s blog entry about the China road trip:

    Joel was a master of negotiation when it came to the market and we sat back and let him work his magic. By the end of the day, the locals were none too happy with us [mostly him] as we held out for bargain basement prices and were able to come away with a few souvenirs for ridiculously cheap prices.

    Hahaha, I never knew Joel was a shrewd negotiator. In fact, he’s one of the more quiet Japanese-Canadian guys on and off the ice, from what I can tell by going to games and his (lack of) media exposure.

    When it came to the games we won the first one and completely stunk the joint out the second one, I think the guys just took them too lightly the second game, but needless to say we lost the second game in the last minute. I did not play in either game because I hurt my hip flexor in the previous game, so I unfortunately just watched and toured the city. Overall though, a great experience.

    The Cranes only took 16 skaters to Beijing and McLennan was resting, so it’s obvious that the team took the Sharks way too lightly. I guess this could be one promising thing about the disastrous Sharks season, they’re not complete roll overs (even with just 3 wins in 30 games this season).

    Anyways, here’s the totally non-pimped up ride that Nash picked up for the two of them to drive around Kushiro. From McLennan’s blog entries, it seems like Nash is the rather pragmatic one in a foreign land.

    ride

    Good luck in the playoffs Jamie and Tyson! (Though they face Halla, and Korean teams advancing further in the playoffs makes Asian hockey as a whole more interesting too…)

    Posted in 02_English, Asia League Ice Hockey, hockey, opinion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »