Sunday, January 24, 2010

Olympic Contest + Contest Update

If you haven't noticed, I have a "Track the Contest" link in the bar to the right. Now for those who missed the train, it was basically a Leafs contest I held before the season started asking some over/under, true or false and fill in the blank questions. Here's an update on that contest.


1. Over/Under on the number of goals Jason Blake will score: 24.5

Actual goals: 10 // Projected goals: 15 - Yeah, the under it looking pretty safe.

2. Over/Under on the number of fighting majors Luke Schenn will get: 4.5

Actual fights: 3 // Projected fights: 5 - This one looks like it's going down to the wire.

3. Over/Under on the number of points Jiri Tlusty will get: 50.5

Actual Points (as a Leaf): 0 // Projected points: 0 -

4. Over/Under on the number of wins The Monster will get: 19.5

Actual Wins: 9 // Projected wins: 14 - Ugh...this one was totally reachable if it wasn't for two heart ablations, one sore groin and Ron Wilson's overplaying of ToskaLOL

5. Over/Under on the number of goals for this team will score: 239.5
Actual goals: 139 // Projected goals: 215 - With the Leafs' PP going cold and Kessel no longer scoring at a point per game place, it looks like this one will stay under

True or false
1. We will make the playoffs.
11 points's still possible but it doesn't look good.

2. We will finish above the dirty Habs.
With the 8th place team being the Habs, this one doesn't look good either

3. Mike van Ryn will not get put on injured reserve this year. Technically true since he never really came off the IR but the fair answer would be false. 4. The Monster will outplay Toskala for the starting job.
Though Gustavsson hasn't been amazing, this is still without a question, true.

5. Our penalty killing will be in the top 10 at season's end.
With a revamped defence and a "healthy" Toskala/new goaltender in The Monster, I figured there would be a huge improvement on the PK. Unfortunately we are the worst team in the NHL defensively and our PK will go down as one of the worst, if not the worst, PKs in the history of the NHL.

Pick a Player
1. _______ will be the first person to get suspended.

Surprisingly, there hasn't been a suspension yet.

2. _______ will score the first goal of the season.
Alexei Ponikarovsky

3. _______ will be the first to be healthy scratched.
Matt Stajan & Niklas Hagman
were the first "regulars" to ride the pine.

4. _______ will be the first to be traded.
Jiri Tlusty

5. _______ will lead the team in +/-

So far, Ian White at +4 but Schenn & Gunnarsson are right behind with +3

If the season finished with the projected stats then there will be a 3-way tie for winners: Ryan, Clark and Lordosis with Ryan taking the tie-breaker (November record).
------------------------------OLYMPIC CONTEST------------------------------
Now for a new contest. With the Olympics coming up, I figured an Olympics themed one would make most sense. To keep it quick and simple, list 3 forwards and 2 defencemen playing in the Olympics. Person with the most points wins.

To avoid having Malkin, Crosby and Ovechkin as everybody's 3 forwards, they are void from the contest. Everybody else is fair game. For a tie-breaker, state who you think will lead the Olympics in points along with how many goals and assists they get. Remember to leave your name rather than anonymous along with some way I can contact you in case you win.

Winner gets this Tomas Kaberle autograph.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Best New Cheap Eats 2009 #6: Kenzo Ramen

BlogTO recently put up a new "Best of..." list: The Best New Cheap Eats in Toronto 2009. Now the first thing I do when I see a new list is check out the map to see which ones are convenient for me to get to. Right away I picked out two that were walking distance from work; #14's Oh Boy Burger and #6's Kenzo Ramen. Since Kenzo Ramen was a little closer, we decided to check them out last Friday.

The Poor Man's Best Friend

When I think ramen, the word cheap definitely comes to mind. My grandparents owned a convenience store when I was young and they told me a story of this customer who only had $3 and 3 days until his next paycheque. He ended up buying his meals for those 3 days. $3 worth of instant ramen!

Now there's nothing wrong with instant ramen (except for the fact that it's loaded with sodium and MSG!). It's easy to make, inexpensive and quite frankly, pretty delicious. That said, if I was going to a ramen restaurant, I expected them to blow those $0.50 packages away. Let's see how they fared.

The King of the Kings Ramen

Location: 4/5

Kenzo Ramen is at 138 Dundas St. W which is right by Dundas and Elizabeth. It's about a couple minutes away from the Eaton Centre and you really can't miss the Japanese decor on the outside. They have a big Japanese style wooden sign along with a Japanese banner at the front. I have actually walked past this place a few times and noticed the store front. I never bothered to actually look at it though as I just assumed it was yet another sushi restaurant. Now my friend told me she's been to the one uptown at Yonge and Steeles but after a quick google search, it looks like they just relocated downtown.

As for the actual restaurant; they decorate it with Japanese lanterns, Japanese cloth screens and Japanese art to give it an authentic Japanese feel...or at least that's what I would assume a restaurant in Japan would look like since I've never been to Japan. The kitchen is located at the back and there isn't a wall dividing it so you can see right into it from the dining area.

My only gripe with the restaurant is that it is too small! When we arrived, there was a small line up so in order to fit everybody in, we had to keep the door ajar. The waiter came over and asked if we could close the door. Well, I would if we could all fit! I would estimate that the seating capacity is around 25 people or so.

Taste: 4.5/5

I ordered "The King of the Kings Ramen" which seemed like one of their more popular items on the menu. My order came very quickly and I dove right in. The King of the Kings Ramen features ramen noodles of course, seaweed (dry and wet), bean sprouts, ground pork, slices of pork, green onions, a slice of fish paste cake (the white with the red swirl) and half of a hard boiled egg all in a spicy pork based soup.

The soup is what makes this meal. It had a decent kick to it and is similar to a Korean pork-bone soup. The slices of pork were very tender and flavourful. From where we sat, we could actually see the pork being slow cooked in their oven. The rest of the ingredients pretty much tasted the way you would imagine it tasting. The meal was delicious and I wasn't left dying of thirst like I normally would after a bowl of instant ramen.

Tacoyaki: A teriyaki taco?

As a side, I also split an order of Tacoyaki with my two co-workers. Despite the name, tacoyaki isn't a teriyaki taco. The menu said it was baked octopus. Having never tried octopus, I was curious as to what this would taste like. Upon getting the order, I noticed that they were topped with dried octopus, crushed herbs and mayonnaise. The balls were also very soft (that's what she said). It appears that they are balls of batter with a chunk of octopus inside it (think Chinese sweet and sour chicken balls but baked instead of deep fried). I picked one up with my chop sticks and took a bite. My first bite was all batter (which tasted like the batter from a deep fried banana) but I could see a chunk of octopus as well as melted cheese inside. After my second bite, the morsel of octopus was gone. It was chewy. The texture was very much like calamari but the taste was different. It had a stronger seafood taste. Similar to abalone. I'm not a huge fan of seafood so the next time, I will just stick to the pork dumplings as a side.

Value: 3.5/5

The King of the Kings Ramen was $9.95 before tax and tip. While delicious, it's a far cry from a couple packs of instant ramen which will probably cost a loonie and change. You do get a healthy serving but like most soup-based meals, I was hungry an hour later. There are definitely better lunch time deals to be had but if you are craving noodles then give Kenzo Ramen a try.

Verdict: 4 Yutaka Fukufujis out of 5

Kenzo Ramen specializes in ramen and their menu reflects that. They have a limited selection of no more than 20 items; most of which are noodles in soup. They even have a couple of Japanese beers and sake on the menu. The service is quick but they could work on being a little more friendly. I don't think I've seen a smile from either of the 2 waiters. The food itself is great though. The three of us really enjoyed our meal and would definitely eat there again. Since Kenzo Ramen was recently relocated downtown, I guess it isn't really a new place but it is still a restaurant worthy of paying a visit to.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Winners and Losers of the New Year

The new year isn't even a month old and the sporting world has already seen it's fair share of ups and downs. Through these past two weeks we have seen a dog get put down, a spitting disgrace, an armed man in Washington and more. Let's check out some of the winners and losers of 2010 so far.


Jordan Eberle

Whether Eberle pans out as an NHL star or not is irrelevant. This kid is the definition of clutch and will hold the title as one of the best Canadian juniors to ever play in the tournament. It's a shame that Canada didn't end up beating the US in OT but Eberle's late-game heroics definitely made this a game to remember.

Aroldis Chapman

When I turned 22 I was fresh out of university and looking for a job. I would spend hours on facebook during the day and consume massive amounts of alcohol during the night. Aroldis Chapman, on the other hand, became a multi-millionaire by signing a ridiculous $30 million, 6 year contract with the Cincinnati Reds. I'm curious to see how his career will pan out. He has the heat but not quite the location yet. A part of me is happy that the Jays got outbid because he truly is a crapshoot but the other part of me is bitter and hopes he turns out to be nothing but a Brandon League. No matter the outcome, he's got 30 million reasons to smile right now.

Ben Henderson

Down two rounds in a five round title-unification fight? No problem. Bendo comes out hungry in the 3rd and turns a Jamie Varner shot into a guillotine choke that had him tapping in seconds. In my opinion, these flash finishes are what makes mixed martial arts such a great sport.

Viewers of the Packers/Cardinals game

I find that as the years go on, my interest in the NFL goes with it. Admittedly, I think I've only seen two or three complete games this year. I don't know what it is...maybe it's the fact that I don't really have a team I'm fully committed to or maybe the one team I usually cheer for (The Bears) sucked ass. Regardless of the reason, this is the game that could suck me back in. The highest scoring game in NFL playoff history featured 9 combined aerial touchdowns, 3 combined rushing touchdowns, a defensive touchdown to win the game and only 2 combined punts! Fans, hell, even non-football fans were in for a treat.

Curtis Joseph

Curtis Joseph ended a storied career on Jan 12, 2010. After a dismal 2008-09 season with the Leafs, he has finally decided to hang them up. I guess he didn't want the lone spot as the goalie with the most losses in the NHL. Instead, he will share that feat with Gump Worsley. Don't let that define his career though. Cujo signed with St. Louis as a 20 year-old free agent and ended up being the fourth winningest goaltender of all time. While some will bring up the no Stanley Cups argument, I personally believe that Joseph belongs in the Hall.


Clippers Fans

I don't understand how one city can have two teams that are so far apart in terms of skill. On one side you have the Lakers, a team that has won 10 championships since its 49 years of existence. On the other side you have the Clippers, a team that has only two winning seasons in its 25 years of existence. So these Clippers are perennial losers, what's different this year? Well, aside from another losing season, they had to evacuate their whole stadium due to a false fire alarm and they also found out that Blake Griffin, their first overall pick from the draft, will be out for the whole season. Yes, it does suck to be a Leafs fan but things could be could be a Clippers fan. I assume that there's nobody with an allegiance to both teams because you would have offed yourself by now.


It's a shame that one of, if not the greatest second baseman to ever play the game won't get in first ballot because a group of writers wanted to send a message. That's the only explanation, really, to omit Alomar from the hall of fame induction this year. I really think that the baseball hall of fame should be decided by a committee that has actually played the game. Hang your head, Baseball Writers Association of America...

The Leafs Penalty Killing

You know that saying that goes "It's like a train wreck, you just can't help but watch." Well the Leafs PK is just as terrible as a train wreck but I sure as hell can't stomach to watch it. They are a torrid 18 for 30 on the penalty kill in the month of January and the month isn't even over yet. That's an embarrassing 60%! Even worse than their record low 68.6%! I have never missed baseball so much.

Jake Allen

This will go down as one of the biggest Toskala-esque performances in the World Juniors by a Canadian goalie. I haven't seen anything fold under pressure so badly since Loser Domi's Mrs. Tavares shirt.

Junior Seau

Junior Seau called it quits...again. His fourth retirement in his last four seasons! If the Pats make another deep run next year, I wouldn't be surprised to see him come back. Heck, what if the Chargers are going for 16-0, will he come out and join them too? I have absolutely no respect for this coat-tail rider especially after he came back from retirement with The Patriots four days after he signed a one-day contract with the Chargers for a sentimental retirement.

Gilbert Arenas

Oh Gil...where did we go wrong? While the stories keep changing, one thing remains the same. He kept guns in the locker room. Now I don't know if he pointed them at Javaris Crittenton or not but we wouldn't even be talking about this if he had just kept them at home. The real winners in the story would be the Washington Wizards. They owed the under-achieving, injury-prone point guard something like $80-90 million over the next four years. This incident gives them an opportunity to void the rest of the contract due to a breach in the morality clause. So long, Agent Zero.

Shinya Aoki

MMA is a growing sport in North America but it's huge in Japan. While Shinya Aoki might not be a household name amongst North American fans, this definitely put him on the map. Fields Dynamite!! 2009 was an event held on new years eve. It pitted two promotions against each other; Pride vs Sengoku. With each promotion having won four bouts each, it came down to the tie-breaker. The world number two lightweight from Pride, Shinya Aoki vs Sengoku's Mizuto Hirota. Aoki controlled the match from the start. He got an early take down and never let up. He eventually got an arm trapped behind Hirota's back and applied a hammerlock (like what a cop would do on a take down). Hirota's arm gets cranked in a way that would make most people squeamish but still doesn't tap. Aoki's had enough and snaps it. Okay, pretty awesome right? I would have this as a winner if it stopped right there. But it didn't. Aoki gets up and flips off Hirota while he's lying there screaming with his arm broken, then gets up and does that soccer airplane celebration, then flips off other members of the crowd before pointing to his elbow and mocking Hirota some more.

Mark McGwire

So Mark McGwire finally comes out and reveals to everybody a big secret that we all already knew. Is this going to increase his chances of making it into the hall? I don't know. Personally, I don't think it should. When everybody suspected him of being a cheater, he couldn't get in and now that everybody knows he was a cheater, he definitely should not be allowed in.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Mid-season Report Cards

Okay so it's a bit past mid-season and if I could forget the past few games, I totally would...but I can't, so here are my mid-season and three games grades.


Phil Kessel

32 GP / 14 G / 8 A / 22 PTS / -2

Kessel is still by far the most talented player on this team. If it wasn't for his hot start, we might be battling Carolina for last. Instead, we are battling the Flyers, Thrashers, Lightning and Panthers for second last. Kessel was off to a blazing start with his new club and scored at pretty much a point a game pace. Unfortunately, the last 10 games happened where he's only gotten 1 point in that stretch. He can definitely make things happen but he has to play stronger with the puck. Brian Burke, please get him an elite centre!

Grade: B+

Matt Stajan

43 GP / 11 G / 21 A / 32 PTs / -2

Matt Stajan is not a number one centre...but with the depth we have up the middle, he's probably the closest thing we have. Most of his points came during Kessel's hot stretch and when Kessel cooled off, so did he; only notching 4 points in the last 10. While he is on pace to record career highs in his offensive totals, his career highs weren't all that impressive to begin with.

Grade: C+

Niklas Hagman

43 GP / 16 G / 11 A / 27 PTS / -1

While there are a ton of things I like about Hagman's game, I expected more from him in terms of his offensive numbers. He's a streaky scorer, notching 13 points in 12 games beginning late November. Since then, he has only gotten 3 points in his next 12. For the past couple of games he has seen fourth line minutes. As one of the veteran forwards on this team, I would like to see him respond to his demotion but driving hard to the net and doing anything to get the puck over the goal line.

Grade: C

Jason Blake

44 GP / 10 G / 15 A / 25 PTS / -1

Jason Blake was horrible to start the year. It took him 27 games to score his 3rd and 4th goals. He has picked things up slightly since then but still not good enough to be a factor most nights. While he will never earn that $4.5 million, he could still be a decent hockey player (as we saw last year). Only 2 more seasons after this one!...

Grade: D+

Mikhael Grabovski

42 GP / 7 G / 18 A / 25 PTS / -1

Like most, I was expecting a break out season for Grabovski. I wasn't looking for a point a game or anything but I didn't think 60 points would be out of the question. Unfortunately, with him being out for the next 6 weeks, it doesn't look like it will happen. Didn't look like it would happen regardless though. His play has been streaky and I would even say he looked disinterested some nights. I blame the peace treaty between him and the Kostitsyns! We want crazy Grabs!

Grade: C-

Lee Stempniak

44 GP / 11 G / 12 A / 23 PTS / -5

I was actually surprised by Stempniak's points total when I checked out his stats. I thought he would have more. I guess this speaks well for him because I actually notice him this season. He's been one of the better Leafs forwards, in my opinion. His play has gotten him some good chances but he just hasn't been able to capitalize on all of them. I do hope that he regains his scoring touch that he had in St. Louis where he scored 27 goals in his sophomore season.

Grade: B-

Nikolai Kulemin

40 GP / 7 G / 7 A /14 PTS / -2

Kulemin is what I would consider a no stats all-star. Well, all-star might be a bit of a stretch but you get the gist of what I'm saying. He's been physical, he back checks and he takes a hit to make a play. When I first heard he was coming over from Russia and played on the same line as Malkin, I figured he would be a one dimensional scorer. Thankfully he isn't...but I would like to see more of that scoring dimension!

Grade: B

Alexei Ponikarovsky

44 GP / 15 G / 14 A / 29 PTS / +4

Poni had a great season last year and I was really hoping to see him build on that. With higher expectations over his head he hasn't really delivered. I would like to see Poni use his size and play more assertively. He has the frame to drive to the net and when he does, good things usually happen. With a team full of negatives, it's nice to finally see a plus player. With 4 points in his last 5, it certainly isn't too late to turn things around. It's a contract year, Poni. Show us what you got!

Grade: C

Colton Orr

44 GP / 1 G / 2 A / 3 PTS / -3 / 86 PIM
Orr's been fantastic. I love watching him fight and he doesn't really hurt the team much either. He doesn't take a ton of bad penalties unlike a lot of enforcers/pests and he's a tremendous forechecker. He also scored a goal! That's one more than Rickard Wallin...

Grade: B+

Jamal Mayers

32 GP / 1 G / 4 A / 5 PTS / -3

Mayers is one of those players that I can't quite figure out. What is his purpose? Why is he playing? Can we get our 5th pick back? While I do enjoy watching him throw down, I would much rather give a kid like Christian Hanson a chance with the big club than to dress Mayers.

Grade: D+

Wayne Primeau

35 GP / 2 G / 3 A / 5 PTS / +1

Another plus player on this team! Primeau has been a solid addition to the team. He won't light the world on fire with his game but he's all you can ask for from a 4th liner. That said, if I could trade him for Stralman, I would.

Grade: B

Viktor Stalberg

14 GP / 2 G / 1 A / 3 PTS / -3

Here's a player Leafs Nation fell in love with during the pre-season. This pretty much shows you that the games played before 1-82 doesn't mean a thing. While Stalberg tore up the pre-season, his regular season stats to start the year was less than impressive, registering a lone assist in 8 games. On his current stint with the Leafs, he's scored 2 goals in 6. While an improvement, still not enough to draw the ooh's and ahh's he did in September. I have no doubt that Stalberg will be quite the player someday. We'll just have to wait patiently for that day to come.

Grade: C

John Mitchell

24 GP / 2 G / 7 A / 9 PTS / -6

In my opinion, John Mitchell will forever be a fringe NHL third liner. While he has decent hands, he doesn't seem to possess the shot to finish. Being injured for close to 20 games does set him back a bit but I can't say my expectations for Mitchell were too high anyway.

Grade: C

Rickard Wallin

32 GP / 0 G / 3 A / 3 PTS / -6

Did Wallin really bring Gustavsson over? If I remember correctly, The Monster was signed before Wallin. So what purpose does he bring to the table? Through half a season, I honestly can't think of a single reason why he is still on the team. You know you're terrible when Colton Orr is outscoring you.

Grade: F

Tomas Kaberle

44 GP / 4 G / 34 A / 38 PTS / -7

Kaberle's never been much of a defender but he's having a blistering season offensively. He leads the team in points and is second in the league in scoring for defencemen. While that -7 is an ugly number, I have to give it to him for his consistent offensive output. I wouldn't be surprised to see him moved at the deadline though. Especially if a package included a much needed first round pick.

Grade: A-

Mike Komisarek

34 GP / 0 G / 4 A / 4 PTS / -9

Komisarek was one of two big free agent defencemen brought in and the pressure to perform seemed to have gotten to him as he started the season pretty poorly. He played overly aggressive and was a negative most nights. His game has settled down a bit since but still not quite the in-your-face defender that I hated playing against when he was on the Habs.

Grade: C+

Francois Beauchemin

44 GP / 4 G / 15 A / 19 PTS / -8

The second big free agent signing was another disappointment to start the season. Beauchemin was at one point a season low -13 but playing that many games with Toskala in net doesn't help. He has definitely picked his game up on both the defensive and offensive ends though and I'm certain he will continue his strong play in the second half.

Grade: B

Ian White

44 GP / 8 G / 14 A / 22 PTS / +7

How does a team with every defenceman in the negatives have one that is +7?! Over the past season and a half, Ian White has shown how valuable he really is. He puts up decent offensive numbers and plays sound positional defence. While he isn't the biggest guy on the ice, he is quick with his stick and doesn't leave his man alone too often. Re-sign Ian White!

Grade: A+

Luke Schenn

41 GP / 1 G / 4 A / 5 PTS / -1

I have to say that Luke Schenn has been playing more like Luke Schenn than he has like OLAS this season. He's been hesitant and second guesses himself at times. In a game of inches, that little pause can mean a clean break out pass or a turn over for a goal. I was really hoping to see a more physical player this year with a slightly improved offensive game but instead his defensive game remained the same, if not a little worse and Schenn hasn't really shown any offensive improvements either. I definitely haven't given up on him but he's certainly be a slight disappointment so far.

Grade: C-

Jeff Finger

25 GP / 2 G / 7 A / 9 PTS / -10

On a team filled with negatives, Finger has the lowest with a -10! What's more impressive is that he did it in about half as many games. He still plays a physical brand of defence but I remember him going down to block shots a lot more last season. For somebody fighting for that 5th/6th spot, I expected to see more out of him.

Grade: C-

Garnet Exelby

24 GP / 0 G / 3 A / 3 PTS / -3

On the bright side, he has the same amount of points as Rickard Wallin! That's about it though...Exelby flat out sucks. He's a train wreck on defence and looks for that big hit too often...even if it will compromise his defensive position and lead to an odd-man rush.

Grade: F


Vesa Toskala

6-8-2 / 3.72 GAA / .869 Save %

This really needs no explanation.

Grade: Submitted to failblog

Jonas Gustavsson

8-8-7 / 2.93 GAA / .904 Save %

If memory serves me right, 2 of those losses came in relief of Toskala. Needless to say, if The Monster started the season as the starter and didn't get injured, we would be in a much better position than we are in right now. Here's to a Toskala-free crease from now on.

Grade: B+

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Congrats to Canada's team for the big win last night.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Do You Want A Resolution?

I hope everybody's New Years celebration went well. Mine is pretty much the same every year; look back at all the goals I didn't meet then drink until I'm completely shitfaced to forget my failures. 2010 will be different though. Mainly because I have a venue to jot down my resolutions. I can't let my readers down (all three of you). Well here goes, as a sports fan, these are my goals for the new year.
  • I will not diss the game of soccer.
  • I will refrain from saying ______ reminds me of a young Halladay because I will simply be setting myself up for disappointment. There will never be another!
  • I will try to follow the CFL - I've always given the CFL a lot of grief but never much of a chance. This year will be different. As a Saskatchewan native, I'm leaning towards following the Riders.
  • I will make it out to at least 10 Jays games - The Jays are totally affordable when catching games in the 500s but Doc's departure makes it that much harder to pick games to watch. Here's to Shaun Marcum continuing where he left off before Tommy John.
  • I will not boo Vernon Wells - We're in it for the long haul, baby. Make me proud. I BELIEVE IN VERNON WELLS!!1
  • I will not go to Boston Pizza to watch UFC - If I have a party of 7 but only 6 of us are here, there is no reason why I shouldn't get a table. I am tired of your shit, Boston Pizza!
  • I will not get a bacon-wrapped dog at Burkie's Doghouse.
  • I will refrain from cursing if the Raptors blow a 20-point lead. Serenity now, serenity now...
  • I will not pretend to understand Cito Gaston's line up decisions.
  • NO MORE VESA TOSKALA DRINKING GAMES! My liver is still recovering.
Well, there you have it. Hopefully those are 10 goals that will make me a better sports fan at the end of the year. But like any good baseball player, I will be happy if I can hit .300.