There Can Be Only On*AAAHH* HE BIT MY FINGER!!!

15 Jun

Patrice Bergeron and Alexander Burrows

It’s hard to believe I have to work hard just to come up with a post about Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals….but…here we are.  I realized last night that the second you decide that you’re not going to write about Roberto Luongo, you’re almost out of stories.  At least that’s what the lamestream media would have you believe.   It turns out, surprisingly, that you can’t make it to the last game of the season without having a couple of interesting storylines.  And so…this is the story…of those stories…

– I heard a professional hockey analyst describe these finals, without any sense of irony, as “classic” because “it’s not like any other finals I’ve ever seen”.  So there you have it, these finals…classic-ly un-classic.

– 43 year old Mark Recchi is tied for the scoring lead in the finals.  If Boston wins you have to think he retires, but what if they lose?

– Vancouver is either a really fucking good hockey team or a really fucking lucky one.  Like it or not, they’ve made it to game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals with a goalie who’s been pulled 4 times (I know it’s technically only 3, but I count an 8-0 game as a pulling) and a minus rating as a team! Imagine how good you have to be, to be outscored and still win.

Bodog has 5 to 1 odds that Luongo gets pulled tonight.

– Downgoesbrown has a great deconstruction of the run each of these teams had to put together that, for me, really highlights the idiocy of cheering for a jersey on any serious level.

Question of the Day: “Should a team that’s fallen so short on so many levels -biggame production, personal comportment, class -and which is (so we hear) unloved by many in the Rest of Canada be given the hero treatment if they rebound from their Boston embarrassments and win tonight?”

Answer of the Day: “No.”

– Let us pray, that in a year full of idiotic gestures and acts, this game isn’t decided based on a ridiculously stupid play by a ridiculously stupid player on one side or the other.  On the other hand…maybe it would be a perfect ending, it wouldn’t be the first time the Hockey Gods have shown us the error of our ways.

– I’ve never heard so many hockey fans talk about how they just want the season to be over.  To all those fans…I would have them be reminded of this.

That’s it, I’m out of here. Go Hockey Team!!

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The Luongo Dilemna Pt. 3 – Return of 7uongo

14 Jun

Luongo sitting on the bench

Another game at the Gardens, another absolute pounding of Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks.  The game is two periods deep and the Stanley Cup is already on Kayak.com looking for a cheap flight back to Vancouver.  So, in honour of Luongo’s piss-poor showing tonight, I’m concluding my acclaimed “Luongo Dilemna” trilogy with a debate on the merits of playing or pulling Bobby Lou in game 7.

PULL HIM!!

– Assuming Luongo plays (and doesn’t get pulled) he’ll have been pulled in 2 of 7, and should have been pulled in 3 of 7 games. If the series was only 6 games long he would have been pulled in 50% of the games!

– At the Garden, Luongo has allowed 18 goals and posted a dismal .773 save percentage. (source)

– The three games that the Canucks have won have all been by one goal, so your margin of error is very, very slim here.

Schneider has been solid in every game he’s played, and that’s coming off the bench cold.  Give the kid a chance to warm up and watch him shine.

– The Vancouver players cannot have any confidence in him at this point. This is the third time people are debating whether or not to play him. That has to weigh on you eventually doesn’t it?

PLAY HIM!!

He’s your #1 goalie, if you lose with him, it’s his fault, if you lose with without him, it’s your fault.

– He’s making what, 25 million this year? Schneider gets paid in bus passes.

– Luongo has been hot at home with two shutouts in three games, it’s hard to argue with that.

– The guy is a Vezina finalist and Olympic gold medal winner, he’ll pull it together.

VERDICT

You really have to play him, but my god, if Boston scores first (or within the first ten shots, or gets any goal that could be considered weak) you pull him and pull him fast.

The More you Know….

– Vancouver captain, first line centre and reigning NHL MVP, has a single point in this series. And people give Lebron a hard time.

– Win or lose, Boston will likely end the series with twice as many goals as Vancouver.

– Brad Marchand treating Daniel Sedin’s head like a speedbag is one of the funniest and saddest things I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen Requiem for a Dream.

– Regardless of what happens in game 7, Thomas has virtually locked up the Conn Smythe.

– Ex-Vancouver Canuck captain and current Vezina finalist, Roberto Luongo, has two shutouts and has been pulled twice…all in 6 games.

-The four goals against in four minutes and 14 seconds scored against Luongo in game 6 is a Stanley Cup final record.

See you for Game 7, in the meantime…enjoy this….

Alexander Burrows dives when hit by Milan Lucic

 

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Meanwhile…back at the farm…

12 Jun

Whenever the Stanley Cup Finals roll around, it’s easy to get locked into a Finals-centric hockey world.  But one must remember, while the best of the East and West fight it out for the “Stanley-Cup-Cliche-Here”, 28 other teams are trying to make the changes required to get themselves one step closer to being one of those two teams. So, in honour of those teams…I bring you what is quickly becoming my favourite feature here at The Puck, “Meanwhile…back at the farm…

The Flyers Get (the rights to) their Man

Earlier in the week it was announced that that Flyers had acquired the negotiating rights to Phoenix Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.  Flyers fans seem to be of two minds on this one; on the one hand, they may finally have themselves a legitimate top-flight goaltender, on the other hand, Bryz is going to cost them dearly and he has no playoff success under his belt. Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) has a great piece about how Ilya is holding all the cards in this negotiation and could really take the Flyers to the cleaners.  This, of course, is bad news for Flyers fans everywhere, but good news for Ville Leino’s real estate agent.

Personally, I don’t think this is the answer for the Flyers.  I know the fans and ownership are clamoring for a top-tier goaltender, but now is not the time to lose one’s cool and trade away some proven talent (Leino, Carter, Carle, etc) for a guy you can’t promise will give you a solid performance next year. I’d sit on Bobrovski, see what he can do in the early parts of next season and look for a trade if he doesn’t perform.

James Reimer was signed to a…oh who am I kidding…nobody cares about that right now…back to the Finals!

Aaron Rome confused English majors, logic students, and ethicists everywhere when he said in an interview that; he was sorry that Horton was hurt, he is upset that he was suspended four games, that the play was admittedly “a little over the edge”, and that, if he could do it all over again, he would.

It’s shocking that Horton hasn’t returned Rome’s apology texts.

I didn’t realize it was my job to correct Luongo’s grammar.

Pumping someone’s tires” isn’t an expression, Roberto. At least not one I’ve ever heard of (or can find on the internet). Also, if it were to become an expression, I have a feeling it wouldn’t mean what you’re using it to mean.

Home on the Rage

There are shifts when watching the Vancouver Canucks is like watching a team full of Pete Rose’s, and they’re all trying to steal third.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the trash talk and I love the hate in this series, but I can’t stand the diving.  I’d rather a player be dirty than dive-y, at least the dirtiness has a sense of honesty to it.  (It’s very difficult for me to pretend I didn’t slash you on the ankle.)  Diving on the other-hand is for cowards, pretending to be hurt/sick is what children do to get what they want and it’s what we deride in other sports.  More importantly, while we call it unsportsmanlike, it’s really un-hockeylike.  So cut it the fuck out Vancouver, and you may just have a chance to become “Canada’s team”…if only for a year.

Also, I only used that title because it fits in with the whole Back on the Farm motif.

Peace.

 

 

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2 Games a Piece….What are the Odds?

10 Jun

While the Bruin’s inspired play over the last two games has the Beantown faithful feeling a whole lot better about their team’s chances, the bookies still have the Canucks as the heavy favourites.  That’s not to say that people haven’t taken notice of the 12-1 beatdown the Canucks have received, the B’s are now sitting at 31/20 as opposed to the nearly 2-1 (39/20) underdog they started out as.

The Canucks on the other hand have only seen a slight dip in bookies confidence and are now sitting as the favourites at 4/7, having dropped from 20/47 (or 4/9.4 for those that have trouble with math).

So the question is, what does a team need to do to get some respect around here?  Because obviously outscoring a team 14 – 5 in four games is not enough.

One person that is getting some respect these days is Bruin’s stopper Tim Thomas, who is now the 2/1 favourite to pick up the Conn Smythe as the MVP of the playoffs, replacing Ryan Kesler who, as I reported earlier, was far and away the favourite to win the trophy when the finals started.

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The Luongo Dilemna Pt. 2 – Electric Boogaloo

9 Jun

Roberto Luongo Gets Scored On

Back in the first round I wrote an article called “The Luongo Dilemna” talking about what the Vancouver Canucks organization needed to consider heading into game 7 against the Blackhawks, including whether or not to pull Luongo…we’ll, a few weeks later and who thought we would be here again!  After another one-sided loss to the Bruins, people are talking about Luongo, and what to do with him.  As usual, a couple of thoughts.

1 – You play Luongo, it’s absurd to talk about not playing him in the next game.  First of all, the game’s in Van-city, where Luongo’s numbers have been great. Second of all, your team has scored one goal in two games, so it doesn’t really matter how well your goalie plays….which leads me to….

2 – The Canucks are being completely outplayed right now. Completely.  Not only are Boston’s top players beating Vancouver’s top players.  But Boston’s pests are completely outplaying Vancouver’s pests.  Think about it, what’s Burrows remembered for right now? Biting someone’s finger?  Why’s everyone talking about Brad Marchand? He’s treating the Sedins like they’re his kid brothers and is busy scoring short-handed goals and playing like this

3 – The Bruins scored 4 goals on Bobby Orr night and 8 on Cam Neely night! Apparently they’ve already put in a call to Andy Moog for game 6.  Vancouver shows just how out of it they are right now and brings in Kirk Mclean for game 5.

Andy Moog Covering a puck

Andy Moog was contacted after the Bruins thought it might be a bit arrogant to go with Ray Bourque night.

4 – Boston has outscored the Canucks 12 – 1 in the last two games, a record for the Stanley Cup finals.

5 – Henrik Sedin is pointless in this series and had his first shot on net in game 4!!

6 – The Canucks need to man up and stop with the childish chippy bullshit.  Having Ryan Kesler and Alexandre Burrows lay a couple of slashes and then run and hide only makes the Bruins more angry and more confident.

7 – The fans at the Rogers Centre in BC actually cheered when Luongo was pulled.  When asked about it after the game, Luongo gave the old “next question”. That has to hurt.

8 – Tim Thomas is quickly becoming my favourite hockey player. How can you not love this guy? In the last two games, at home, in the Stanley Cup finals, he’s let in one goal and has one fight and one hit.

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Horton hears a *WHOMP*

7 Jun

Nathan Horton on Ice after Aaron Rome hit

 

In case you missed it, for the second year in a row, the Boston Bruins are losing one of their top players for the rest of the playoffs to a crushing hit.  Last night Aaron Rome might as well have used a trampoline to launch himself at an unsuspecting Nathan Horton, not just knocking him out, but knocking him right out of the playoffs.

Everybody’s clambering to weigh-in on the hit, what it means and what the suspension will be so I figured…why not join in?

The Hit

Ugly.  So fucking ugly.  It was late, high, to the head and caused a severe injury.  If Rome’s not sweating, he should be.  There’s no defence for this hit, Rome committed to it at the same time Horton passed the puck off, there was time to call it off, or even tone it down, but he didn’t.  Rome had arguably the Bruins best player in his sights and he hit to hurt him.  Which brings us to…

The Suspension

Rome will be suspended.  This has all the ingredients of a serious suspension.  The fact that it’s already been announced that Horton will be out for the playoffs is going to hurt Rome big time.  I’m thinking 2-3 games, which since it’s the Stanly Cup Finals, is about 10-15 regular season games.

What it means…

The Bruins now have to play without a top line guy for the rest of the playoffs, the Canucks will have to play without a middle-tier defenceman for a minimum of two games, which on the surface doesn’t seem very fair (which is why I’m praying for a longer suspension, in the 4 game range. UPDATE: 4 it is.) but consider that the Vancouver D is already stretched thin with injuries, and Rome was playing on a top defensive pairing with Kevin Bieksa, and this becomes kind of a big deal.

This is also the first suspension since Colin Campbell announced he was moving out of the supplementary discipline game, so it’s a chance to set a new tone for suspensions. Three or four finals games would definitely do that, and nobody could argue with it.

Editorial Note: A lot of people are comparing this to the Stevens v. Lindros hit in 2000, saying that what was legal then should be legal now.  Two things; first, they’re completely different hits (Lindros had the fucking puck!! See video below). Second, laws change, get used to it.  We used to smoke on airplanes and drive without carseats for our kids. There are 90 guys in the NHL today that can hit as hard as Scott Stevens on his best day.  I don’t like the idea of a zero tolerance rule for head shots, but the players are changing, the rules need to change with them.

 

 

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Stanley Cup Finals – Betting Odds from a Guy who Knows Nothing about Betting Odds

1 Jun

I’ve been more and more interested in hockey betting in the past couple of months, so I thought it would be interesting to see what the odds look like throughout the finals this year and learn a few things, things which I’ll share with all of you.

So, looking at the odds below, using my terrible math skills and naive knowledge of sports betting in general, it looks like the bookies aren’t giving the Eastern Conference champs much of a chance this year.

NHL Finals Betting Odds

What this horribly confusing chart basically means is this….if you bet $100 on the Bruins, you’ll win $200 on top of your bet, give or take, (for a total of $300).  If you bet $100 on the Canucks, you’ll only win 45 bones on top of your initial 100.  I’ll have an article explaining how these numbers work some day, for now, go here for a tutorial.

As for game 1, the Canucks are even heavier favourites (which makes sense seeing as they’ll be playing in front of a rocking Rogers Arena), coming in at -200 to the B’s +170.  This means I need to bet 200 dollars on Vancouver if I want a 100 dollar return but the same bet on the Bruins will net me 140 dollars, a 70% return on investment, vs. a 50% return for the Canucks bet.

Math, right?

Keep in mind Boston fans, the Flyers were even bigger underdogs last year at +200 to the Blackhawks -200 and they managed to push it to OT in game 6 with some major injuries. And Philly didn’t exactly have a Vezina winner in net.

Other interesting notes from looking at the odds….

– Kesler is FAR AND AWAY, the odds-on favourite to win the Conn Smythe.

– The series will likely end in 6 or 7 games. (not really going out on a limb there)

– You’ll get 15-1 odds if you want to bet that a player from the losing team will win the Conn Smythe.

– If you bet 250 dollars that there will be a 5 minute major at some point during the finals, you’ll win 100 bucks.  With Lapierre, Lucic, Torrer, Kesler, Horton, Marchand and Bieksa playing, that’s money in the bank!

 

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B-B-B-Ettman and the Jets!

1 Jun

Burton Cummings as Winnipeg Jets Captain

Burton Cummings, the embodiment of Jets fans everywhere right now.

First off, congratulations to Jets fans everywhere, and the city of Winnipeg.  Second, my condolences to Atlanta and all Thrashers fans.

I’ll have more to say on this in the future but here are my initial thoughts on this whole thing…

Bettman, no matter what he does, will never have any fans in the hockey world.  People complained that he would never allow another Canadian team under his watch, now they’re complaining that he wasn’t happy enough at the press conference announcing another Canadian team under his watch.  Well I’ll give you an idea as to why he may not be all that happy, he just watched a team move from the 9th largest metropolitan area in the United States, to Winnipeg.  Which brings me to my next thought…

Winnipeg is now the smallest market in the NHL. Because Winnipeg’s rink is so small, even if the Jets sell out every game next season, it will finish no better than 24th in attendance across the NHL, based on figures for the 2010-11 season, trailing the likes of Nashville, Florida and Dallas, all money-losers last year. (link)

– The issue of moving teams to Canada seems to be more about U.S. vs. Canada, or everyone vs. Bettman, than it does about the actual long term viability of a market or the overall health of a league.

– A lot of players do not want to play in Winnipeg, rightly or wrongly.  The response to the team moving to Winnipeg has been unprecedented; we’ve seen analysts, agents, players and more players all speak up about how much players do not want to play in Winnipeg.  That being said, you know there are lots of guys out there dying to play their hearts out for a rabid Canadian crowd that will hold them up as gods if they can only win a few playoff series.  It’s also going to depend on what kind of culture this team builds, if they win, players will come.  So we’ll have to wait and see how this plays out, but in the meantime, prepare yourself for story after story of players not wanting to move to Winnipeg.

– Everybody wants this team to be called the Jets.  Everyone.  Now just do it.  Why start this whole process by pissing everyone off, and possibly making a very poor decision about names, jerseys and logos?  You would think the owners would have enough on their plates without having to worry about whether or not they’re creating the next Wild Wing?!?

 

Anaheim Ducks Wild Wing Jersey

The "Wild Wing" jersey. There are no words.

You have a logo, colours and a team name that are popular enough (after 15 years of that team not existing) that they still sell merchandise based on it, and you’re going to try to outdo that. On top of all that, you’re going to have to deal with the accusations that you’re just trying gouge your fans by asking them all to buy new jerseys, hats, pennants, bedsheets and underwear.  Good luck.

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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

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R.I.P. Boogeyman

14 May

Derek Boogaard Celebrates with teammates

Earlier this evening, feared NHL enforcer Derek Boogaard was found dead in his apartment.

Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Michael Russo first reported the news via Twitter on Friday evening. According to the New York Daily News, foul play is not suspected.

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