Reader Feedback

[Q about a competition in net for San Jose]

1. Toskala's excellent play has given the coach and team confidence in him if Nab struggles.
2. Starting out as the go-to goalie is not the same as Nabokov earning it with his recent play.
3. A strict win-and-stay-in philosophy translates perfectly to the must-win games in the playoffs. In order for a team to advance they have to beat two solid goaltenders twice.

[Q] Where are the minature hockey tables you posted about here?

[A] Wow, this caused a lot of emails. Sorry for posting it a few days before Christmas, and after it was already sold out. Kohls said they are out of stock online, but there might be a few left in stores. Here is more information about it, good luck.

Tabletop Ice Hockey, orig. $19.99, sale $9.99. Cool game! Bring home the fast-paced fun of ice hockey with this tabletop game. Play offense and defense to fight for the puck and score! Includes tabletop "ice" rink, realistic players and accessories. 20 �" x 13 �" 2 to 4 players Ages 5 and up By Feldstein &Associates, Inc. Model no. IH665.

[Email from Jim] Just want to commend you on your webpage... We travel ~300 miles to take in a Sharks game 2-3 times per year. Thanks for making us feel a little closer to the team!

[A] No problem Jim. My pleasure.

If I didnt get to your email please accept my thanks for all the interesting comments, opinions and questions you sent in this year.


Brand new Atari 2600 handheld ice hockey console

modified atari 2600 vcsp
After reading about this in Wired magazine, my brother Chris ordered a modified Atari 2600 made into a handheld gaming console. He has the custom wood 2600 VCSP made by Benjamin Heckendorn.

Here is the game I got him:
activision atari 2600 ice hockey cartridge

And a picture of the gameplay:
ice hockey game play

NHL 94 for the Sega Genesis is still the game by which all other hockey games are measured. Football was the best game for the Atari 2600, or it could be it is the only one I remember.

You can play NHL 97, which is a modified version of NHL 94, online for free at easports.com.

[Update] Visit ElectronicArts.com to see details of the NHL 2004 Global Championship interactive hockey tournament.

[Update2] A complete list of hockey video games and gaming consoles is available here.


NHL Notes

- On today's radio broadcast, SJ coach Ron Wilson said "Our #1 goal is that [Nabokov] knows if he doesn't get it done, [Toskala] will."

Creating a goalie competition is one of the main reasons the Sharks are battling for 1st in the Pacific Division. It worked somewhat for Shields-Vernon. With Miikka lighting the league on fire one would have to think it would have worked for Nabokov-Kiprusoff as well.

One goalie will take the reins in the playoffs, but with the current competition he will not be worn down playing the bulk of the regular season.

- This is my nomination for the most powerful NHL article of the year:
Snyder's death brings teammates closer - Eric Adelson.

An interesting fact from the article is that Atlanta forward Slava Koslov was in a similar car accident 12 years ago that killed his teammate Kirill Tarasov. "It's in your head the rest of your life" Slava Koslov said. In his first news conference after the accident that killed Dan Snyder, Dany Heatley told reporters "I'm going to miss him forever."

- The IIHF 2004 World Junior Hockey Championships are upon us with an unlikely favorite, the United States. The USA Hockey site is the best place to follow the action in Helsinki-Hameenlinna, Finland, and the Toronto Star has an informative team by team analysis. The USA dropped the hammer on AUT with an 8-0 first round win.

- Interesting statistical power ranking from CBS sportsline: San Jose [GOAL-24th, DEF-21st, LW-14th, C-19th, RW-16th]

- No local tax money for a new arena in Pittsburgh, while the first game was played tonight in the $220 million [privately financed] Glendale Arena in Phoenix. The name is temporary until a sponsor is found. I think the Balco sports nutrition arena would be a bad choice.

- The Canucks Corner NHL blog has an excellent roundup of quotes from NHL players about wearing visors.

SF Chronicle's Ross McKeon wrote a column about it as well, Recent eye injuries spark debate over visors. I asked Ross about full visors in the NHL after reading his column.

[Q] Do you think the NHL would ever allow a full face shield like college, for a player without a jaw injury?

[Ross McKeon] As far as I know, any player - whether injured or not - could opt to wear a full face shield in the NHL right now if they wanted to. I've seen it only with players who are protecting an injury - Minnesota defenseman Willie Mitchell comes to mind as the most recent to don a full shield - but there's nothing that says any player can't use one. I don't think the league would ever mandate EVERYONE wear one, I think the league would be thrilled - for insurance purposes - if the NHLPA would agree to mandatory half-visors. I think it's coming in the next 10 years or so, but nothing is imminent.


Public Service message from the rest of the NHL
its just a game
Relax Dallas Stars fan, its just a game.


Canadian hockey players visit troops in Afghanistan
Two former NHL players [Tiger Williams, Kirk McLean] and a gold metalist for the women's Olympic team [Cassie Campbell] recently visited Canadian troops in Afghanistan. They toured Kabul and will visit the convention taking place to form a new Afghani consititution. Canadians marvel at Kabul's transformation - Terry Pedwell [CP]
"I just talked to my Afghan interpreter, and asked him 'Do you want the Canadian soldiers here?'" Former NHL tough guy Dave (Tiger) Williams said Sunday. "He said 'They have to stay, they have to stay.' Every day, he says, they're saving thousands of lives."
It is hard to put into words how much I respect these three players for supporting their countrymen in a time of need. TSN also has an update on this story, Hockey heroes boost morale in Afghanistan.
Campbell, McLean and Williams have been named honorary captains in the Canadian Forces while they're in Kabul - complete with uniforms - although they can't wear the captain's stripes for security reasons.
On a similar note, the San Jose Sharks recently paid a visit to the midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy.

Non-hockey related, one of the greatest assists that will never make the box score. Make sure to click the video link on the right.


True fans
4th infantry playing hockey in Tikrit palace
Soldiers of the US Army's 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Ironhorse, play hockey inside one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, Friday Dec12, 2003.
[AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky]


NHL notes
- Like the great Doghouse Line [Selanne, Marleau, Korolyuk], the Canucks are rolling the Mattress Line [two Sedin twins and a King], and a Flyer fan anointed Roenick-Recchi-Amonte the "We Won't Be Scoring At This Pace in March Line".

Thanks to Puck Update for the link.

- Two goalies on the Sharks roster this year are in the top 10 for save percentage and goals against average. Drum roll please... Miikka Kiprusoff [.935, 1.49] and Vesa Toskala [.933, 1.93]. In his two games back from injury, Evgeni Nabokov is making a charge with a 42 save 2-2 tie against Edmonton, and a 28 save shutout over Anaheim.

- Redline Report's Kyle Woodlief is high on Sharks goalie prospect Patrick Ehelechner. Patrick has one of the best personal websites I have seen. Make sure to stop by his photo gallery.

- "They had four outstanding young goalies [Nabokov, Toskala, Kiprusoff and Hedberg] and I know they've got a couple of others coming too." Chicago Blackhawk coach Brian Sutter told the Contra Costa Times. The goaltending factory in San Jose continues to churn out quality product.

- Tip for west coast teams to help alleviate the effects of travel on the east coast, hootersair.com.


Escape from San Jose
Rob Blake vs Vesa Toskala

Nils Ekman scored two highlight goals in the first period. It looked like San Jose would roll over the Forsberg-less Avalanche. Both teams fell asleep in the second period, but 2 goals by Blake and Liles led to a very intense 3rd period.

Aebischer made two clutch saves in OT to escape the Fish Tanque with a 2-2 tie.

Christain Ehrhoff Niko Dimitrakos
hit in the crease Rob Blake
Seamus Kotyk David Aebischer
Teemu Selanne

Vesa Toskala coming out of the Sharks head


Amateur guide to professional digital hockey photography
Now that we took a look at the point and shoot cameras for fans, it is time to take a look at the DSLR [digital single lens reflex] cameras the pros use.

Most professional NHL digital photographers fall into two camps: Canon or Nikon. Take a look at any game and you will see most of the pros using the tell tale white Canon lenses with a Canon 1D or 1DS. Many pros also shoot with a Nikon D1X, D1H, or the brand new D2H. Rob Galbraith has a sample photo gallery from the Canon EOS 1D and the brand new Nikon D2H. Both provide examples of what top of the line digital cameras are capable of capturing in the fast-paced, low-light NHL setting.

The megapixel race consumer cameras are fighting does not necessarily apply to the pro digital SLR's. Shutter speed, frame rate, buffer size, noise levels, amount of post processing needed are all important factors.

For an introduction to shooting the NHL visit Bruce Bennett Studios how to shoot hockey. David Black also has an informative description of how photographers use remote overhead lighting setups for arenas.

To see some of the photo galleries from other pros, search SportsShooter or DPreview for hockey or NHL. Also take a look at the classic hockey photos from the Hockey Hall of Fame, or the Beehive Hockey photo museum.

A few of my favorite photo displays are the galleries and tutorials of Cory Shubert shooting the Minnesota Wild, Don Smith and Rocky Widner shooting the San Jose Sharks, James Guillory shooting the Sharks for TopShelf, and the no longer updated SLAM hockey hits gallery.


Amateur guide to amateur digital hockey photography
From high up in the stands your pictures may lack a little oomph. Show up 30 minutes early and take pictures of the goalie making a save during warmups, the coach preparing for the game, or a close up shot of one of the players. If you are in a lower bowl section, try to focus on an area in front of the crease and wait for action to come to you. Take multiple indoor pictures of the arena and stitch them together with Panorama Factory. On your way home, use an auto timer, set your camera on a bench and take a long exposure shot of the arena at night [try 8 seconds at F8].

A setting of 100 or 200 is best for most situations, but for low-light hockey a much higher setting is necessary. A higher ISO usually adds more grain to the image, so increasing the setting should be balanced with the results after printing. Start with 800 ISO and experiment with settings higher and lower.

Many cameras will examine the whole scene and over-expose the picture due to the reflection off of the white ice. If your camera has a spot or center-weighted metering function, try holding the shutter half way while focused on the head of a player, and then move the shot to your desired composition press down completely and take the picture.

White Balance:
This will be a very difficult setting for most cameras to handle due to the varying light sources in indoor arenas. Many cameras have specific settings for fluorescent or tungsten lighting. Auto white balance varies settings from picture to picture, so use a specific indoor setting if possible.

Shutter lag:
Most point and shoot cameras have a significant delay between pressing the shutter button and the actual picture being taken. If possible, hold the shutter down halfway to lock focus and snap just before the action takes place. If your camera has a burst feature, use it. An overly green or blue color cast to your picture may mean your shutter speed is out of synch with the timing of the arena lights. For Fluorescent lights try using shutter speeds in increments of 1/60. Shutter speed should be at a minimum of 1/250, although 1/500 or higher is recommended in order to freeze the action.

The best advice for sharp hockey photographs is to use a tripod or monopod. Since they are not allowed for fans, try leaning against a wall, balancing on an empty seat, using your cameras swivel [if available] to rest it on your armrest, etc. Any added stability will greatly improve the sharpness of the pictures. Be creative.

Try a few online printing options for your photos such as Printroom, Ophoto, or Shutterfly.

Email your favorite pictures and photography links here and we will post the best.