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Ryan McNeil: No Longer an Elite Goalie?

Famous Ashland and CVRHL goalie, Ryan McNeil, started his goaltending career out with four straight championship seasons. Since then, he has been at the center of two heartbreaking playoff losses which have been unbearable to watch. With his last championship season occurring over 8 months ago, one has to wonder: is this the beginning of the end of Ryan McNeil’s days as an elite goaltender? Here are a few reasons to believe that might just be the case:


Difficulty Coping With Recent Losses
This photo above, which was sent in by an anonymous reader, shows McNeil sipping alcohol during his most recent playoff loss. Obviously, he has been drinking away his solid save percentage and goals against numbers. Maybe if he put down the beer, and picked up his glove, he could return to his former glory.


Lack of Dedication to Winning
I think this photo speaks for itself. Ryan’s lackluster production in net recently can almost be entirely attributed to his lack of motivation to winning. Simply sitting in the crease is not good enough.

He can not win without the Hussars
Every single one of Ryan McNeil’s championship rosters has included a member of the Hussar family. He is 1-2 in playoff games where he does not have a Hussar on his team. Simply put, he cannot win without the Hussar family. And where are the Hussars you ask? Jack is set to play for his 5th championship next Tuesday, and Will is seeking to win his 2nd after coming off an impressive rookie season. Hats off to those two.

We here at Poke Czech miss the highlight reel plays and SportsCenter Top Ten saves that we all have come used to seeing from Ryan McNeil. The Shelhorse Cup is to be played next week, and it features Ryan McNeil in it. The only question is: will he show up?

“Why would I? Nobody on my team showed up all season,” said Ryan, holding back tears, after tonights tough loss. This could potentially be the end of Ryan’s career at Ashland, and thus the end of an era. Although, to be fair, the era of McNeil’s success ended a long time ago.


Breaking Down the Southeast Division – April 7th, 2013

The Southeast Division of the NHL has been absolutely pitiful this season. The best team in the division currently has 40 points, which is less than what the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference currently possesses. Obviously, it’s been a rough season for all Southeastern United States NHL teams. Let’s break down how each team in the division should finish the season:

Carolina Hurricanes:
This season for the Carolina Hurricanes has been a total and complete failure. After expecting to win the division handily, the Canes have essentially given up on this year with more than 10 games to go, despite only trailing the Southeast division leader’s, the Washington Capitals, by only 6 points with a game in hand. With the new additions of Alexander Semin and Jordan Staal, this should have been a year that Carolina ran away with the division and won the Southeast. However, it does not appear to be leaning towards that for the Canes. Poke Czech predicts that Carolina will finish the season with about 42 points or so, in 4th place in the division. This will be a very disappointing season for Canes fans, however, it could be attributed to the lockout shortened season, so Carolina will be a team to watch out for in the new divisions next year.

Florida Panthers
I don’t know where to begin with the Florida Panthers. Go figure that a team that didn’t even win half of its games last year is struggling. After suffering some injuries and frankly, just not being a good team to start with, the Pants find themselves at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and second to last in the league. I could say that Florida fans could be shocked, but that would be a lie. Any one who didn’t expect Florida to be at the bottom of the division this season is either very optimistic or just not understanding of hockey at all. No team is going to be able to be successful for multiple seasons without winning games. For some reason, the Pants thought they were an exception. They only won 38 games last season (not even half, which would be 41 games). Instead, they counted on Overtime Losses to win the division last season. Unfortunately, with the lockout shortened season, they didn’t have time to practice how to take games to overtime, and now they just lose in regulation. I highly expect Florida to finish the season with about 38-40 points at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and last in the Southeast Division, and I don’t expect them to be contending in their new division next year either.

Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Gay Lightning got off to a strong start this season, only to regress to the bottom of the division and fall behind the Caps, Canes and Jets. It has been a fairly disappointing season for the Lightning, however, they are not out of contention for the division and I expect them to make a run at the division title. They currently sit 6 points back of the Capitals with a game in hand, however, with the new addition of Ben Bishop, and the roster that Tampa already had, they have a strong team. I could see them catching up to the Caps if the Caps start to struggle a little bit. Having the leading goal scorer and first transgendered hockey player, Steven Stamkos, on the team is a very important piece that the Bolts would be nowhere without. I see Tampa Gay finishing the season 2nd in the Southeast Division with about 48 points. With another season not in the playoffs for Tampa, they will probably sign some elite players this summer, and possibly contend in their new division next year, but frankly who cares? Florida barely supports hockey anyway.

Washington Capitals
Anything less than a division title in the Southeast Division this season will be an embarrassment. The division is literally the weakest it could be and the weakest it has been in years. Luckily, everyone’s favorite team, the Caps, have beaten up on the division this year, having won 11 of their last 12 divisional games. With Alex Ovechkin finally heating up and dominating, Ribeiro and Backstrom producing as well, the new addition of Martin Erat (if he recovers from the cheap hit from the Panthers on Saturday night), and Braden Holtby playing solidly the last month, the Capitals are EASILY the best team in the Southeast. I would be shocked if the Caps don’t win the division with at least 52 points. If they don’t, however, I do believe they will get the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Caps will be a team to watch if they make it to the playoffs this year.

Winnipeg Jets
The Winnipeg Jets have actually been a decent team in a lousy division this year. The Jets were winning the division for a decent amount of time this season, but they have finally been caught by the Caps. The Jets will not be in the playoffs this season, I believe, and it’s probably for the best (they aren’t even geographically located in the East after all). The fact that they didn’t re-sign Eric Fehr after last season is a bad omen for them. He has been on multiple Southeast Division winning teams, and it appears he’s about to be on another (the Caps — 2013). Ondrej Fagalec has been solid, but he’s just an average goalie. The Jets will probably finish third in the Southeast Division with about 46-48 points. When was the last time Winnipeg/Atlanta was in the playoffs? No one remembers, so let’s not talk about it.

As you can see: the Caps are the best team in the Southeast division. They should win the division and maybe make some noise in the postseason..

Good day,
Poke Czech

Ashland Rattlers Start Season 4-0, Lose Next Two Games

After starting the season off hot, the Ashland Rattlers of the CVYRHL have struggled in the last few games. Some may chalk this up to illness, poor play or bad luck, but essentially, the result of these two games is from a lack of effort. The Rattlers have unfortunately become complacent in the last few weeks, and if they hope to contend for the highly sought after CVYRHL Cup this season, they need to get their game together.

Rattlers Goalie Ryan McNeil has voiced his frustrations over the last few days. “The Rattlers should have traded me while I was healthy,” Ryan “Ray” McNeil said. Despite some rumors circulating that McNeil suffered a severe injury in the team’s game last Wednesday, McNeil assured me that he will be ready for the team’s first playoff game in the weeks to come.

Another Rattler’s player suffered a set back this week: F John Hussar is currently suffering from mono and/or strep throat. Despite the potential of rupturing his spleen in last week’s game, J. Hussar played through it.

Indeed, the Ashland Rattlers do have a talented group of guys on this season’s roster. However, with the lack of effort shown over the last few games, are they championship worthy? Only time will answer that question.

Caps Commit Exorcism on Devils, Win 5-1!

It started much like you probably thought it would: a 0-0 game at the first intermission. Then, everything fell silent and then Ovechkin put the puck in the net! 3 times! Wowza!

“Of course I score goal three time,” Ovechkin said after murdering the Satanists, “I am best goal scorer in league. No surprise.”


-Holtby – a good game. He only gave up one goal, and he was screened for it, so it wasn’t his fault.

-Ovechkin had his first hat trick in two years, and his first one in DC since February 7, 2010! It was only a matter of time.

-Ribeiro has 20+ points now. Still waiting on the apology from @RussianMachine as well.

-Brouwer and Ovechkin are now tied for the lead in goals on the Caps this season. 8 a piece for each of them.

-Kovalchuk scored, but who cares?

“It was a game,” Oates said post-thrashing, “We played hockey, they played. There were penalties.”

The Caps play against the Carolina Tropical Depressions on Tuesday at 7!

-Poke Czech

@RussianMachine: Where’s the Apology?

Weeks ago, towards the start of the season, I wrote an article regarding @RussianMachine’s comments towards fan favorite, Mike Ribeiro. They had written an article claiming that Mike Ribeiro was not living up to the hype and that they didn’t think he was going to produce like he should. At the time, not only was he leading the team in points, but he had been one of the only Caps players consistently producing. Weeks later, he still is! He has been, BY FAR, the best player on the Capitals this season. There is no disputing that. It’s fact.

Me, being the kind, considerate, understanding journalist that I am, kindly offered @RussianMachine a chance to retract the statement and apologize for their harsh words toward Ribs. They ignored the request, thus saying no to the retraction. This is just unacceptable.

UNTIL @RussianMachine issues a retraction, there will be tension towards their blog. We demand that they issue this as soon as possible.

Come on, @RussianMachine! How can you hate a guy wearing this many golden items?

Come on, @RussianMachine! How can you hate a guy wearing this many golden items?

-Poke Czech

Oh, and @TheHornGuy is still a coward. He hides from the truth on Twitter, much like he hides from Verizon Center when the Caps have a bad game or two.

Preview: New Jersey Devils @ Washington Capitals – February 21st, 2013

The Capitals face off tonight against the New Jersey Devils. After the close game where the Caps’ almost came back and won in overtime in New Jersey a few weeks back, one has to think tonight’s game will be really tight.

“I want win games now,” Caps Captain, Alex Ovechkin said during today’s morning skate. “Not enough goals in net from me so far. It is Semin fault. Blame him.” No one knows exactly why Ovechkin was talking about former Capitals player, @BadSasha28, but as long as Ovi plays well tonight, no one will care.

Poke Czech’s Predictions:

-Braden Holtby will start, so the Caps will either have brilliance in net, or absolute stupidity. There is no middle line.

-Alex Ovechkin will have a big game and record 1 goal on the powerplay and an assist as well.

-Mike Ribeiro will continue to prove to George McPhee and the rest of the world that he was an excellent pick up by setting up some key goals.

-The Caps will have a big offensive game after the lackluster effort on Sunday.

-The final score will be 5-3 for the Capitals.

Michal and #TeamNeuvirth are all wondering when he'll start again. We miss representing the Czech Republic.

Michal and #TeamNeuvirth are all wondering when he’ll start again. We miss representing the Czech Republic.

-Poke Czech

Caps Devastate Bolts 4-3; Stamkos Comes Out of Closet

This game started out great for the Caps tonight. They went out and in the first few minutes, the Caps had taken a 1-0 lead thanks to Troy Brouwer! Unfortunately, the Tampa Gay Lightning then tied it up at 1 a piece thanks to some unknown player who plays in Florida. The first period ended in a tie.

The second period was great for the Caps. Eric Fehr scored a beautiful grinder’s goal off two great passes from the Frenchie (#85) and Joel Ward. They went into the third period leading 2-1.

The third period started out great, with the Caps expanding their lead to 4-1. However, with about 8 minutes left in the game, Tampa Gay scored and made it 4-2. Then, Tampa Gay scored again with about 4 minutes left. The score was then 4-3. But that’s all she wrote for Tampa Gay, because the Caps buckled down, told them to get off their ice at their home away from home, and skated off the ice with a win. It was beautiful. I’m pretty sure that somewhere Alex Semin smiled. Not because he likes the Caps, but because Carolina has a division lead and they’d like to expand it. Don’t get your hopes up. Semin did insist on burning his Caps equipment bag, after all.


-Eric Fehr deja vu! Just like in the 2011 Winter Classic (Sit down, Pens fans), Eric Fehr scored two beautiful goals.

-Perreault looked brilliant with his 3 assists. He needed a big game like this to get him going.

-Holtby tried to blow this game by allowing some cheesy goals in the third. Ovechkin promptly kicked him in the eye, and he got on top of his game for the last few minutes en route to a wonderful win.

-Tampa Gay is still called Tampa Gay.

-The Caps have their third win in a row, their fifth win of the season, they are no longer the worst team in the league. Woooo.

The Caps play on Sunday against the New York Power Rangers riding a three game winning streak.

-Poke Czech