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The More You Know…

30 May

Stanley Cup Finals Logo

For the first time in a long time, I’ve been left without a clear favourite heading into the conference finals and, subsequently, the finals, finals.  I languished in a sort of hockey-fan purgatory, not entirely ready to hate or love any team I was watching in the semis.  I love Joe Thornton as much as I love Roberto Luongo.  I respect a team with a grand history and commitment towards building a winning hockey team, as much as I love the idea of hockey fans in the south being rewarded once again with another hard-working, uber talented cup contender.

It wasn’t until the elimination games in the respective conferences that I started to figure out who it was I actually wanted to win each series.  And I got what I wanted in the East.

You see, I live on the East coast and don’t get to see much of these Western monsters, so the playoffs are a really good chance for me to get aquainted with Western teams.  And this year I learned one very surprising thing….I don’t like the Vancouver Canucks.

The more I watch the Vancouver Canucks the more I dislike them.  In the space of a single playoffs I went from good old Canadian boy, hoping for Canada’s only Stanley Cup hope (featuring Canada’s Olympic gold medal winning goalie) to win it all.  But after actually watching this team play, I find myself wishing for another swine flu epidemic more than a Canuck Stanley Cup.

I used to see Luongo as the guy who stared down a hockey world and delivered us a gold medal at home. Now I see him as the guy who needs a backup to cover him when things get a little too tough, or any time he plays against Dave Bolland.

I used to see the Sedins as a pair of durable, workhorse, point-a-game men who were beginning to break out of their Mats Sundin shell and become true hockey giants.  Now I see them as two truly skilled players who can really deliver, as long things don’t get all that tough on them, or they’re playing against Dave Bolland.

I used to see Ryan Kesler as….well, Ryan Kesler.  Now, I see Alex Burrows as Ryan Kesler light…and Max Lapierre and Ryan Kesler Bud Lime.  Point being, they’re all unbearable.

So now I’m left with what? Sami Salo? Rafi Torres?  Jeff Tambelini?

When I have to think hard about which player I hate most on a team, that’s not a team I can pull for.

As for the Bruins…who doesn’t love seeing Cam Neely in the press box?!? Who can argue with those classic jerseys and that consistent, Big Bad Bruins, persona? Sure, the Bruins have their share of shitheads (Marchand, I’m looking at you) but even a Canadian hockey fan must find it difficult to Look at the Lucic-Krejci-Horton line, standing in front of Tim Thomas, and not cheer for that team.

P.S. If you’re ever in an argument with a Canucks fan about why you should or shouldn’t be cheering for them…show them this gif.  There is absolutely no comeback for how goofy this celebration is….

Henrik Sedin Celebration Animated Gif

OH YEAH!?!?!

6 May

We’ve all met these guys, there are two things they want more than anything in this world;

1 – To make you think they want to fight you and….

2- To not fight you.

I can’t top Grapes on this one….take it away Don….


Hockey Fighting, or not by PrimitivePuck

 

Bravo! Two, Zero.

3 May

I keep moving to write an article about the goaltending situation in Philadelphia but I’m waiting for them to go one full game without pulling their goalie, so in the meantime….

Some quick thoughts on round two so far….

2 – 0 – We’re five days into round two of the Stanley Cup playoffs and we already have three surprise two-nothing leads, San Jose over Detroit, Boston over Philly and Tampa Bay over Washington. I don’t have anything to say, I just had a kick-ass title for this post and needed to use it.

Tampa Bay – I guess it’s easy to lead a series 2-0 when your power play is firing at a higher percent than an honour student’s math test.

Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis

BFF's

Boston – Philadelphia gets more shots on net in a period than some teams get in a game (and set a record in the process) and they don’t score a goal. In the meantime, the Flyers have changed goalies in each of the past five games. Pretty easy math. Speaking of…

Boston Goaltending, your dad had another great game.  Hope you don’t have plans this summer, because when Thomas wins the Vezina this year he’s going to ask you to help him build a trophy case in the TV room as a sort of Father-Son project.

 

Tim Thomas mustache

"You know son, whatever it is that's bothering you, you can talk to me about it. Now what do you say we go get an ice cream?"

JVR – is turning into the Claude Giroux of this year’s playoffs. Unfortunately for him, it may end two rounds earlier than Giroux’s run last year.

JVR at the draft

The next thing in power forwards or the next thing in Degrassi Junior High cast members?

San Jose – This is just a bad match for Detroit. San Jose beat them down last year and look to do the same this year.  San Jose will be tough for anyone but for whatever reason, they’re great against the Wings. Something that not many teams can say. I suppose it may have something to do with the fact that…
Johan Franzen – ….is clearly injured. He sat out a game at the end of the Phoenix series and hasn’t had a sniff since then, registering a paltry 4 shots and 1 hit in 2 games against San Jose.

The Luongo Dilemna

25 Apr

Luongo Beachball
When the decision to play Cory Schneider was announced last night, most people were asking themselves “what happens if Vancouver loses?”, but the I think the far more important/intersting question is “what happens if Vancouver loses and Schneider plays really well?”. It’s Schneider’s solid play (minus a few puck handling gaffes) that has everyone wondering what will happen next. There are a few things that Canucks coach Alain Vigneault needs to consider…

1 – As goes this series, so goes your job….most likely. You lose this series and the public pressure (which is huge this year may just be too much for you to keep your job.
2 – The “Live with your best, die with best” theory. It’s hard to blame a coach for playing a goalie that’s being nominated for the Vezina. It also takes a lot of pressure off the shoulders of the coach, as you don’t have to actually make a choice, you can just spout a cliche….while you’re looking for another job.

3 – How does Luongo feel knowing that you didn’t have enough confidence in him to play him in the last game? How awkward is that team lunch going to be!? Luongo has always struck me as a…. temperamental player, how will he feel about working with Alain Vigneault in the future?
4 – Whatever logic you used to decide to start Schneider in game 6, how could it not apply to game 7? What WERE you thinking? Chicago is in the head of Luongo? The Canuck players have lost confidence in their goalie? You’re getting pressure from management/fans (unlikely)? Whatever it is, it still applies; Luongo isn’t going to suddenly gain his confidence back, nor are his teammates going to start believing he can win against this team.

Of course, none of this matters if Vancouver wins it’s next game (except for NHL’s marketing department of course). Funny that.

A Tale of Two Saves

24 Apr

The Boston v. Montreal double OT game obviously comes packed with highlights but, as you’re walking down the hall towards your local water cooler, there are only two you need to remember.

These are two spectacular save that combine for not only a game/series changer but, if the Bruins end up winning this series, are complete playoff changers. All of a sudden you have a healthy, confident Bruins squad heading into the second round with very little physical damage. They still have one more game to win, but if they manage it, you can bet these saves will each get their own “history moment” commercials.

Michael Ryder saves the lead.

Timmy Thomas saves the game.

“It’s Teeth”

17 Apr

The other day Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning said something that could only have come from a hockey player. When asked about what he thought of having to have a double root canal after having his teeth fractured by a Penguins stick he replied “It’s teeth, it’s not a shoulder, it’s not a knee, it’s teeth”.

So, with that in mind, I bring you 5 great “It’s teeth” moments.

Bobby Baun
Bobby Baun

Everyone knows this story by now…but Bleacher Report sums it up nicely.

In Game 6 of the 1964 Stanley Cup Finals between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings, Leaf defenseman Bob Baun fell to the ice in excruciating pain after blocking a slap shot off his ankle late in the third period.

Baun was carried off on a stretcher and was presumed to be out for the remainder of the series. During the intermission, Baun refused to have his ankle X-rayed. Instead, he insisted it be frozen and, miraculously, he skated out for the overtime session.

The Maple Leafs, facing a three games to two deficit at the time, were in need of a hero to keep their Stanley Cup dreams alive. At the 1:42 mark of overtime, Baun drilled a shot from the point that beat Detroit netminder Terry Sawchuk, giving the Leafs a Game 6 victory.

Inspired by his heroics, the Leafs easily won Game 7, 4-0, giving the team a third consecutive Stanley Cup victory. It was not until after the series that it was discovered Bob Baun had scored that overtime winner on a fractured ankle.

Rick Tocchet

On March 15th, 1992, Tocchet suffered a fractured jaw in the first period. Not only did he continue to play that night, but he scored two goals including the game winner. To Tocchet, it is just part of the game. “We were .500 at the time, you want to play and you want to try to win.

Zdeno Chara

This article speaks for itself.

Ian Laperierre
Ian Laperriere Puck face

On November 27, 2009, Laperrière was hit with a slapshot in the mouth while killing a penalty at the end of the first period against the Buffalo Sabres. After missing the second period in order to receive between 50 and 100 stitches (and probably have the shards of his 7 broken teeth removed from his mouth) he returned and played the third period. Enough said.

Oh and it happened again later that year….

Paul Karya (Ballsy, but not recommended.)

During the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals, New Jersey defenseman Scott Stevens delivered one of the most devestating checks of his career on the unsuspecting Kariya who was knocked unconscious. You’ll remember this game as the one where Kariya later returned and scored a goal later in the game to help the Mighty Ducks force a game seven.

Reasons Why you Shouldn’t Try to Fight the Montreal Canadiens

16 Apr

GSP, from Montreal, is a Habs fan

George St. Pierre looking completely natural in his Habs jersey.

1. They won’t fight back.

2. Everyone roots for the underdog….and Habs players will always be the underdog in a fight.

Montreal prays on the idea that, if a small guy gets in the face of a big guy, everyone will think he’s superhero. The reality is, it’s not ballsy to threaten to fight someone who will never fight you. In hockey, there’s an unwritten code that a fighter will never fight a non-fighter, so, as a small player who never fights, it’s easy to approach a larger, tougher player who can never honourably start a fight with you. Best possible scenario for you (being a Canadien), he does decide to drop the gloves and kicks the hell out of you. Then he looks like a bully and you look like a hero for taking a beating (see, Talbot, 2009 playoffs .

3. You could end up in jail/They’ll call 911?!?!

Earlier this year, Boston Bruins defenceman, Zdeno Chara hit a Montreal player and broke his neck.. This unfortunate incident whipped the Habs faithful into a frenzy, to the point that they actually started calling 911 to report the incident. Fearing that justice may not have been served, the Montreal police leapt into action and started investigating the hit.

Incidentally, it may go a long way towards world hockey peace if Canadiens fans remembered that all-time great Maurice Richard would have been arrested by Boston police in 1955 if not for the Bruins management.

Side note:If Google is any judge as to how people feel about the Montreal police, they may have more important things than hockey games to worry about.

Montreal Police....

Seems about right....

4. You may dash the hopes and dreams of millions of Habs fans….

A few years ago, Montreal had a player that it considered to be a “tough guy” in Mike Komisarek. Habs fans danced and cheered his name until he into a man sized fire-hydrant named Milan Lucic. Mr. Lucic literally punched Komisaek in the face until he was wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey. Not only being reason a guy leaves a city, but possibly changing the course of his career through a sheer physical beating cannot be easy on a man’s conscience.

Milan Lucic, Ape Hangers

Milan doesn't seem bothered by his potentially criminal behaviour

5. He may kick the living the living hell out of you (especially if you’re living in the 1950’s)

Have you ever gone over to a friends house to play ball hockey and saw your friends dad talking to a really odd looking guy in the kitchen? So you walk outside, arguing about who will play net, and you ask you buddy “who’s that guy in the kitchen”, “oh, that’s my uncle….he just got out of jail.”? You remember when that happened? Well, you didn’t know it at the time, but that guy in the kitchen was Maurice “the Rocket” Richard. The Rocket made a living out of two things; scoring goals and making other guys uncomfortable by staring at them without a scrap of humanity in his eyes.

Maurice Richard and Toe Blake

The Rocket contemplates the ways he could kill Toe Blake and have it look like suicide.

There’s a saying in French speaking Canada that the only fight Richard ever lost was with cancer…but then, they almost burned their own city to the ground because he punched a linesman in the face….twice

You can find the Montreal Canadiens currently locked in a mortal struggle with the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Teemu Selanne is cooler than you.

13 Apr

This off-season, Teemu Selanne (of 76 goal rookie year/Stanley Cup championship/1300+ points/two-time Olympic scoring leader/7 time Finnish player of the year fame) decided that, at 40 years old, he still had more to give as a hockey player, and he returned to play one more season with the Mighty Ducks.

So why is cooler than you?  Well, for starters, when he's not busy being mistaken for gorgeous movie stars, he passes the time casually breaking NHL records and car racing as his alter-ego Teukka Salama, a.k.a Tommy f*%^*ing Lightning!!

Teemu being Teemu

This guy is someone's dad!

 

As if all that wasn't enough, on Saturday night, while you were opening your second bag of potato chips, Teemu Selanne, a man who has never once fought in his career, grabbed a 26 year old professional hockey player by the neck and laid a beating on him.  For those of you keeping count, that makes Selanne undefeated in his pro fighting career. 

Starting tonight, Selanne can be seen taking his show on the road as the Anaheim Ducks take on the Nashville Predators in round 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.

Rock on, Teemu.

Winners and Losers

10 Apr

Stanley Cup Playoffs

Winners

Philadelphia

If anyone should know about being wary of a team that’s sneaking into the playoffs it’s the Flyers, but Buffalo simply is not the team they’ve been over the past few years, they should give the Flyers a chance to get their playoff legs under them. Miller could steal a game or two but that’s only going to get you so far against a team with 8, 19 goal men.

3M

Hospital supply companies are about to see a serious spike in sales of stitches, icepacks, smelling salts, bandages, icy-hot, etc, etc, etc.

Flyers Goaltending

Roman Cechmanek doing his best to make sure the puck doesn't hit him.

Mediocre Goaltenders

Fast dissolving is the myth that you need a great goalie to be a Stanley Cup winner. The Lower-End Goalie Union looks poised to take another big bump this year with a handful of teams looking to make deep runs on the backs of card-carrying LEGU members. The Sharks, Lightning, Ducks and Capitals will all start the postseason doing their best Philadelphia Flyers impression by going into the playoffs with goaltending that is questionable at best. Hell, even gold medal winning, Stanley Cup favourite, Roberto Luongo is being questioned. And the Flyers themselves? Well the Flyers are being the Flyers.

California and California North

Kings, Sharks and Ducks make it into the playoffs together for the first time ever with Vancouver leading almost all bookies as the team to beat. All due respect to the Great One, but there’s never been a better time to be a hockey fan on the left side of the country.

Ghosts of Playoffs Past/Fans

Who isn’t itching to watch Habs v. Bruins and Chicago v. Vancouver? I’d like to think even Vancouver wanted a chance to exorcise those demons.

Goalie Fight

 

Losers

Chicago

With the season on the line, playing at home, the defending Stanley Cup champs couldn’t get the job done. The playoffs are better with the Blackhawks in but you have to earn it, from both a management and player perspective, and they haven’t done that in the past calendar year.

Anyone over 6’3 hitting anyone under 6’1

Let’s pray we don’t see another series decided because of a flavour of the month rule change. I want to know how Chara can hit Gomez without “targeting the head”.

Habs Fans

Being beaten by your most hated rival is hard enough. Being beaten by your most hated rival who’s captain you recently tried to have arrested is something else altogether. Let’s hope the Montreal police invested in some fireproof cars this year.

Daniel Sedin

You get injured for the first time in your career and have to sit watch your brother become the most valuable player in hockey. So, not to be outdone, you come back from injury, lead the league in points and power play goals and sit among the leaders in goals, +/- and game winning goals all while leading your team to the President’s Trophy and odd’s on Stanley Cup favourites. You do all that, just to see Corey Perry put in a second half performance that all but ensures him the Hart trophy. I’d be inclined to vote for Daniel just for a sense of symmetry.