Saturday, June 11, 2016

I'm moving the blog to

So if you're a reader or even have my blog linked o your blog roll, I would be over the moon if you would take the time to re-follow or change the link address.

I'll be shutting this one down in the very near future. There's been some weird activity going on that I would like to prevent. I'm also getting rid of the domain name - what a dumb decision that turned out to be; it has been nothing but issues.

Thanks all!

- Brad

Thursday, June 2, 2016

2011-12 Pinnacle Rainy Day Rip

Here's another pack of unopened cards that I had laying around, waiting to be set free.

I haven't seen, let alone opened a pack of 2011-12 Pinnacle in quite some time now. The package brought back a lot of memories from just a few years ago where I was opening this product on the regular. So um, would this pack rip fall into that Throwback Thursday category?

A sophomore Taylor Hall graces the package for 2011-12 Pinnacle.  It's hard to believe that he has been in the NHL for six seasons already. Where does the time go?

There are 10 cards per pack with a shot of pulling a wide array of inserts from Nufex technology parallels to memorabilia and autograph cards.

Although many of the photos selected to be represented on the cards feature some pretty neat shots - there are nearly just as many stinkers in the group. Take the above Ryan Smyth card for example; is it really even Smyth? You can barely see him in it.

A couple of boring cards featuring Souray and Carcillo. Not too much going on in these.

Hands down my last favorite base from the pack.

This overhead card of Jimmy Howard takes the imaginary gold medal as my favorite pull from the rip. Unfortunately my scanner thought otherwise and decided to cut the top off the card during processing.

The photo used on this card is so grainy that I swear they may have just taken it directly from an actual live televised screen capture.

This pack was an overall dud but in an attempt to make the best out of a negative situation; it was fun opening up a low-end product that I ripped into a lot when I began to get back into collecting for the first time around.

I use to have a lot of these before I sold off a hug chunk of my collection just recently so I guess these will find their way into my newly instated miscellaneous box until more come along.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

He Shoots, He Scores

I have a few unopened packs of cards laying around, waiting for a rainy day blog post. I'll be throwing them up here over the next few days since I'm essentially broke at the moment when it comes to hobby spending.

Score 2013-14. Yup. You've probably seen a fair share of cards from this set but for what it's worth, I'm going to show you more of them!

It's a 650 card Mack Truck of a set. There was an additional 100 card update set released as well if you want to get really serious about collecting the whole shebang.

The pack kicks off with a nice horizontal card featuring Peter Mueller celebrating after a goal. Since his season with the Panthers, Mueller has found himself playing overseas in the Swiss and Swedish Hockey Leagues.

Gold border parallels fall one per pack. Seems like an eternity since Vanek was a member of the Sabres.

On a related note, I thoroughly dislike colored border parallels. Gold border, red border, black border - They do nothing for the actual card! They're simply just a waste of a card in a pack.

These 'The Franchise' inserts aren't anything to write home about but it was a nice change-up in the persistent flow of base from the pack.

The 'Team Leaders' sub set is pretty cool. Evidently, there are 30 cards in total so every team in the league is covered.

Another goal celebration card. The third of such from this pack of 12.

"Making his way to the ring from Parts Uknown..." Heh. Sorry, that's the best I've got.

Panini did a fantastic job with the Score brand for this final release. The design is simple and fresh showcasing some top notch photography that gave Upper Deck's flagship set a run for their money. Commence talking about how much we all miss Panini Hockey.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Reverse Retail Therapy

Admit it. We've all been there before. Sent out to a major retail outlet by our significant others to purchase recycling bags and in turn suddenly finding ourselves wandering the card aisle.

I suckered myself into taking home a blaster box of 2015-16 Upper Deck Series 1 by building things up in my head to believe that inside laid a Connor McDavid, Dylan Larkin or Max Domi 'Young Guns' card, you know, possibly. With a blaster yielding two Young Gun cards, I gave it a shot.

Out of all the new base additions, the above Jonathan Quick card was probably my favorite photography wise. Just an overall nice, clean shot of the L.A. Kings netminder.

I know it's almost sacrilegious to talk bad about the photography from Upper Deck's flagship set because they've done such a fantastic job time after time. I mean besides the crop of rookie cards, the photography is what this set is known for. But I was actually kind of disappointed this year to be honest. They're usually on point with the image selection but I didn't feel it from 2015-16 UD. For every nice card there seems to be 3 stinkers. Anyone else feel the same way?

I thought this Ryan Strome card was pretty neat as well. Worth a scan at least. It's actually a pretty simple shot but there's just something about it that I like, maybe it's that intense, piercing look. Also, It was another card that I didn't already own so there was a novelty factor.

Here's Jiri Hudler on a fairly weak insert set dubbed 'UD Portraits'.There are so many of these to collect that it's basically a set within a set including off course 'Legends' and 'Rookies' short-prints.

Boyle reminds me of the Burger King mascot on this card. He has been such a big thorn in the side of the Penguins during their Eastern Conference Finals series.

Another large insert set, 'Shining Stars'. Collecting all of these would be a fun chase if you're into that sort of thing. I already had a blue parallel version of the above Ekman-Larsson from a previous blaster or tin purchase.

"Giddy up".

Hornqvist has become one of my favorite Penguins over the past two seasons. He has been such a hard working player who isn't one to shy away from going into the opposing paint.

Love the photo on the reverse of the card and personally think that it would have been better used in the Canvas set as the main image. Looking through the backs of the UD Canvas cards that I already own from this set, I feel like a lot of the images from the reverse would have made a great front photo.

The two 'Young Guns' from the blaster were Josh Anderson and Matt Puempel.

Anderson spent the majority of his season in the AHL suiting up for the Lake Erie Monsters; came up to the NHL for 12 games with Columbus and scored his 1st NHL goal and registered 4 points.

Puempel split the season between Binghamton and Ottawa. A 1st round draft pick in 2011, Puempel has shown some promise, lighting it up in the minors.

I'm going to toe tag this blaster as a mild letdown. Although I am well aware that retail blasters are very limited in their content, I didn't hit any of the 'Young Guns' that I conjured up inside my head.

On the bright side, as a set collector, I'm now just 14 cards away from completing the 200 card base chunk. I'm attempting to make good out of a bad situation.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Here's To You, Joe Thornton

The San Jose Sharks seek revenge tonight as they look to go up a game in the Western Conference Finals against the St. Louis Blues.

I thought that it merited a little cardboard throwback to one of the greatest centers to play the game over the past 18 years, Jumbo Joe. 

There's long been a stigma attached to Thornton as being a "playoff choke artist". Chastised for a lack of post season success as the centerpiece to a well-rounded San Jose Sharks team.

Jumbo can still play the game at an elite level; just this past year he registered 82 points, his highest total since the 2009-10 season. As the playoffs roll on, so is he - rolling through the competition with 14 points in 16 games played.

Is there any doubt that Thornton may have had something to do with his linemate Joe Pavelski having the second-most goals in the NHL since 2013-14?

Remember "Rocket" Richard Trophy winner Jonathan Cheechoo? Played on a line with Joe and led the NHL with 56 goals in 2005-06.

A Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, Olympic gold medal and 1,341 points under his belt - a Stanley Cup ring would be the metaphorical chloroform to silence his critics.

But regardless of whether Thornton ever leads the Sharks to the Stanley Cup, his production has stood the test of time in the regular season with decent Stanley Cup Playoff totals.

Friday, May 20, 2016

2014-15 Upper Deck Artifacts Hobby Box Break

Is there any better way to begin building a collection than by busting a box?

I decided to roll the dice on 2014-15 Upper Deck Artifacts, a product that boasts being, "chock full of hits". Each box comes with an autograph, a handful of memorabilia cards and more than enough serial numbered parallels and subset cards.

It's an affordable product that opens a window to the possibility of landing some nice cards.

Apparently, according to Upper Deck, 70 percent of Artifacts hobby boxes have a memorabilia card that features either a patch, stick, tag, strap or has six pieces. So we know that the goods are packed inside, now the aim is directed at hitting those patch, stick, tag cards with the right players.

Here is a contents list of what to expect inside a typical hobby box of 14-15 Upper Deck Artifacts.

2014-15 Upper Deck Artifacts Hockey Hobby Box Break
• 1 Dual- or Triple-Player Memorabilia Cards
• 2 Additional Multi-Swatch Memorabilia Cards
• 1 Autograph or Rookie Autograph Redemption
• 1 Rookie Redemption
• 2 Numbered Rookies
• 1 Numbered Goalie Subset Card
• 1 Additional Numbered Subset Card
• 1 Numbered Parallel
40 Total Cards

I've always enjoyed the modern look of the Artifacts base set. The collection's design tends to focus on a 'portrait' of the individual player as opposed to in game photography.

The background features an ice surface-like texture which is very fitting. The use of foil on the card compliments the whole design and is done exactly right. Generally the cards keep to their clean, stylish scheme we've come to expect from Artifacts. 

The reverse of the base set features stats from the previous 4 seasons along with a short write-up in regards to the featured player. A similar ice-like background is used along with the same photo that was used on the front of the card.

I like how Artifacts includes a mix of current and retired players. There are a few notable atypical retired players that have been included in this years product such as Markus Naslund, Brian Bellows and Rob Brown - guys who don't seem to get the kind of hobby love per say the likes of Yzerman and Sakic tend to receive.

Artifacts also throws a visual changeup by including images of players in their Team Canada and NHL All-Star jerseys; not to mention retired players in uniforms that are not commonly associated with them such as Eric Lindros in a Dallas Stars sweater and Rob Blake sporting an Avs crest.

The serial numbered goalie base cards are typically inserted at a rate of one per box. I beat the odds and pulled two of these in my hobby box; Henrk Lundqvist and Pekka Rinne. The design of these are nearly identical to their base card equals aside from a gold hue implementing the background and a stamped serial number /999 on the right side of the card.

My two numbered rookies were Andrey Makarov and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Makarov spent the entire 2015-16 hockey season in the minors sharing goaltending duties with Linus Ullmark and Nathan Lieuwen of the Rochester Americans. He was served a cup of coffee in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres during the 2014-15 NHL season in a 60 minute regulation loss.

Kuznetsov has become a regular stud on the Capitals. He registered 20 goals and 77 points in 82 games this past season playing occasionally on the top line with Ovechkin and Oshie.

You may have noticed that the Andrey Makarov card is a 'Ruby' parallel, numbered out of /499 instead of the usual /999 serial number.

The promised numbered parallel turned out to be a 'Gold' Michel Goulet numbered to just /25 copies. A low numbered parallel of a Hall of Famer. Parallel cards aren't my thing so hopefully I can flip this for something more suited to my own collecting preferences.

As previously listed among the contents of a hobby box, you receive one autograph per, either in the form of an autographed memorabilia parallel or as an 'Auto Facts' card .

I'm not really into Tyler Bozak but I think that I could have probably done much worse. Obviously, the 'bigger' names such as Gretzky and Orr from the Auto Facts checklist are as per usual, very tough to pull.

My first memorabilia hit from the box comes in the form of a 'Treasured Swatches' Daniel Briere. The dual jersey card features two of the Montreal Canadiens' most prominent colors.

There's a Rookie Redemption card in every box of Artifacts. Mine was a 'wild card' which turns out will be Phillip Danault of the Chicago Blackhawks when it is redeemed from Upper Deck. Danault is now a member of the Montreal Canadiens.

The 'Tundra Trios' card that I pulled was a little weak in the player selection category. Similar to the state of the Buffalo Sabres during 2014-15 campaign, this triple-jersey card doesn't have much going on for it. On the bright side, at least all the swatches are colored.

I was saving the best for last. Here's my biggest hit from the box - a Drew Doughty Jersey Patch card that's numbered out of /75.

I really like the jersey and patch pieces that they decided to use on this card. Albeit just a small piece, the glittery silver lining of the Kings' crest makes this card pop. I think it's going to be a keeper in my collection.

I think I did okay from this box of 2014-15 Upper Deck Artifacts. No ultra mojo hits but I wasn't disappointed with the overall outcome. In the end, I walked away with some nice cards and I could see myself busting another box of this in the future.

What did you think of my loot from this break? What are your impressions of Upper Deck Artifacts? Let me know in the comments.