Pens Crap the Bed: SCF Game 4

Man, what a crap ass game of hockey, FOR THE PENGUINS!!!!

I’m mired in the postgame coverage on ESPNews (seriously, they have hockey coverage, must mean there’s no NBA tonight), and these coach interviews remind me of why I don’t want to be a “professional” sportswriter. Actually, listening to the post game interviews by Crosby and Fleury after game 3 really drove it home. Crosby may be billed the most exciting player in the NHL (or at least shoved down our throats as the most exciting), but he could put you to sleep in the postgame. BORING!!!

Speaking of Fleury, he looked like ass all night. He could make initial saves, but even saves that were directly in his glove seemed to magically bounce out into danger zones. I really think he should have had both of the goals the Wings scored, and he had a one second delay every time he came out to play the puck. Mostly, he looked unfocused, and that affected the game greatly.

Not that he was the reason for the loss, but he certainly was one of the reasons. Let’s list the others, shall we?

Malkin can’t score. The only thing he put in the net was himself. I think he had a few good chances, but chances don’t win cups.

If you can’t score on a 5 on 3, that’s one thing. But the Penguins couldn’t even gain the zone, and the last minute was ridiculous.

Crosby was the only one with any energy in the third. He was the only one chasing the puck, and the only one trying to work outside his little bubble. I don’t give Sidney props much, but he deserves some credit.

In the third, the Penguins weren’t taking any chances on defense, and not only gave up one zone, they were giving the Wings the entire damn rink. I can’t think of a time in the third (or the rest of the game, come to think of it) that a defenseman pinched in the offensive zone. If you are down by one, take a chance once in a while.

Hossa was certainly the best player the Penguins had tonight, but he wasn’t enough, and shouldn’t have to be. There should be enough talent around him to make a difference. Remember earlier in the year when Hossa was the dog of the league? The man was doing everything tonight. In fact, he did the only thing.

You will notice that I am saying nothing of the Wings. That’s right. I’ll leave it at that.

I spent the night online at the live blog of Puck Daddy Greg Wyshynski, It was a great time, with plenty of the funny. See you there for game 5.

Pistons Are Done, SCF Ratings to get Bigger

Detroit sports fans have no excuse not to watch the Stanley Cup Finals, now that the Detroit Pistons have fallen to the Boston Celtics.

There were two interviews right after the game, one the stereotypical player interview (Kevin Garnett), tempered and useless, the other (Paul Pierce) full of raw emotion that an interviewer isn’t ready for, and the camera doesn’t sign bright on, and you don’t see often enough. The Celtics, in stark contrast to hockey traditions, not only touched the conference trophy, but held it up and gave it a group high five.

Now thousands of Detroit residents and dystopia can focus on the best trophy and hardest championship in sports. Welcome aboard.

One Detroit team down, one to go?

ESPN Reports on Self, Melrose

ESPN just loves to talk about itself. If the worldwide leader isn’t doing it, it isn’t news. What could possibly be more entertaining than one of it’s own analysts in the news, this time in a positive way:

Former Los Angeles Kings coach Barry Melrose brushed aside a rumor he is in line to become the next head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, saying he is enjoying his life as an ESPN analyst.

“This is no different than any of the last 10 years,” Melrose said in response to a report in the Toronto Star. “I’ve been contacted by a handful of clubs every year since joining ESPN. My desire to coach again has never been a secret, but I love what I do at ESPN.”

I bet he sure does love what he does at ESPN. As the only face of hockey, he has to actually work somewhere around two hours a day (I would speculate). Why would you leave all the glory as one of the most recognizable faces of hockey in the US, and have so little to do?

Try this on your sports loving friends who don’t track hockey. Hold up a picture of Melrose, and let them guess who he is. Then hold up a picture of John Tortorella, and see how they do. Dollar to “Have another donut,” you know what is going to happen.

Classic ESPN narcissism. If the World Wide Leader doesn’t report on it, it doesn’t exist. And if they are talking about themselves, they are the happiest sports network on earth.

Luc Bourdon, Canucks Defenseman, Dies at Age 21

CTv.ca tells the sad story:

Luc Bourdon, a promising young defenceman in the Vancouver Canucks organization, was killed Thursday afternoon when his motorcycle collided with a tractor-trailer near his hometown in northern New Brunswick.

More details from The Province:

Bourdon died instantly at around 12:30 p.m. New Brunswick time when the motorcycle he was driving hit a tractor-trailer head-on on Hwy. 113 in Lameque, N.B. That small town is about 10 minutes away from Bourdon’s Shippagan hometown.

….

Bourdon’s family has been told by the RCMP that the cause of the accident is believed to be a strong wind gust which blew Bourdon’s bike into the oncoming truck.

Alanah at Canucks and Beyond has more here and here:

Which brings me back to Luc Bourdon. I didn’t know him at all and am in no position to eulogize his loss, but by all accounts he was a nice young man. Yet for most of us, our acquaintance with him was simply as a talented hockey player with a great future.

But today I think it’s important to remember that he was both things—the nice young man and the talented hockey player.

This all brings up questions about athletes, and the things they do in their off time. Football fans remember the motorcycle accident Ben Roethlisberger got in, and the accident the Danny Heatly had that wound up killing Dan Snyder. More so in the off-season, athletes love things that go fast. Maybe it’s the lack of intensity afforded by a season of hard work, or maybe it’s something else. I don’t know.

Reports are that Bourdon got his motorcycle only a few days before the accident. They say there are only two types of motorcyclists, those who have been in an accident, and those that will be in an accident. I was told, when I took my motorcycle safety class, that there are people who should ride motorcycles, and those who shouldn’t. Unfortunately, people often find out which one they are about a moment too late. I found out for myself the hard way. I’m here to tell you, it takes very little for something to go wrong on two wheels. I am lucky enough to have lived to tell the tale (with the help of a helmet, riding jacket, gloves, and good shoes).

The responsibility one has to a team pales in comparison to the responsibility one has to themselves, or to their family. You can legislate away every detail in a persons life (just ask the U.S. Congress), but people should be left to make their own decisions. Motorcycle accidents happen all the time, and they are usually just a blurb on the evening news. It’s only at times like this, when it’s someone we recognize, when people have a connection on a wider basis, that we understand how tragic these things really are. I think we tend to think of how tragedies like this affect a player’s team as a way of coping as a fan, and not understanding how deep something like this cuts the people who are directly involved. We think like fans, because he is an athlete, and it becomes hockey news. I believe that’s OK. It’s the connection with the people involved. It’s our context.

It’s understandable why people’s thoughts turn to the team. It says a lot about the human condition. In one perspective, it looks as though we are cold and callous, that we only care about sports. The other is that we look for a way to care, a way to connect to these people, and we are looking for a way to share the pain, and to understand the tragedy.

I don’t want this to sound cold. Motorcycle accidents are common. My dad had a few, I had one, and both of us lived through it. There are a lot of people who aren’t so lucky. Luc Bourdon was one of those, and the sport of hockey helps us connect to him. Hopefully, knowing there are so many hockey fans that care in their own way, it helps make things a little bit better for his family.

Oh, and if you decide that you want to ride a motorcycle, scooter, or any of the other variations, I suggest looking at the Motorcycle Safety Foundation website, and taking a course.

Theo Wants to Return

With the Stanley Cup Finals going on, it’s a slow news month for the Avs right now. Other than the signing of Tony Granato, everything else is speculation and “want to” right now.

In the want to category, Theodore wants to come back to the Avalanche. From the Rocky Mountain News:

Jose Theodore wants to continue his career resurgence in Colorado, and it appears the feeling is mutual.

Theodore’s agent said Wednesday he expects to talk with Avalanche general manager Francois Giguere soon about a new contract for the 31-year- old goalie, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

“We’re looking forward to seeing Francois and having discussions with him,” agent Don Meehan said. “Jose’s priority would be to be back in Denver. We’ve expressed that to Francois, and they’ve indicated they would like to have him back.”

Indicated? Perhaps at a serious discount. This sounds like Agent Speak 101 to me. Frankly, I think Jose just wants a job next season, and they are going to be few and far between. Remember Robert Esche, anyone?

Though Theodore and the Avalanche are eager to work out a deal, it might not be that easy. Theodore just completed a three-year, $16 million contract and could test the open market to gauge his value in what could be the final long- term contract of his career.

I would love to see Theo test the open market. If he truly had any off ice value, then the Avs are going to be the on;y ones who know about it, and the only ones who might pay him for it. Other than that, I hope Jose was able to save some of that paycheck from the last few years. He won’t be getting another one that big. Ever.

Before focusing on Theodore, Giguere still wants to find out whether captain Joe Sakic and forward Peter Forsberg will return for another season or retire.

It’s good to have your priorities straight.

Wake Up, Fleury

I took some crap for posting this before, but I think it holds true more than a year later.

The problem with Fleury

The only thing  Fleury diesn’t have to answer for is scoring goals.  I think his worst moment was when he gave hockey fans a reminder as to why a goalie doesn’t usually clear the puck, and certainly up the middle.  Talk about a move that could seriously bite you in the ass.

A series may no be a series until it goes to the second city, but everyone in the Penguins organization has to be worried.  I’m worried.

Versus mentioned that the last time a goalie shut out the first two games of a SCF, it was Brodeur in 2003.  Well, the Ducks came back and made a series of it, and hopefully, the Penguins can find it in themselves to do the same thing.

Oh, and maybe with a few less cheap shots along the way.  But hey, I see cheap shots going both ways.  Whatever it takes.

Coach Granato: The Other View

It was announced today that Tony Granato, brother to women’s hockey star Cammi Granato, and former head coach of the Avalanche, is getting another shot as the head cheese.

And I think that’s fine.

I would imagine that some of the other Avs bloggers are thinking I should have my head examined for that statement, but I believe that the Avs could do much worse. Some are looking at this as past mistakes being made again, but I have a different take on things.

Previous Experience:

Shane from Colorado Avalanche Talk had this to say about Granato’s last stint as head coach:

A dream team involving Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Alex Tanguay, Milan Hejduk, Teemu Selanna, Paul Kariya, Rob Blake, Adam Foote and on and on it goes. With a team like that, fans had high hopes of a birth in the Stanley Cup finals. In fact, expectations were so high that the season was captured on film.

Those are pretty lofty expectations (not just from Shane, but from all over the fan base). How soon we forget that Patrick Roy had just left the team the previous season, or that

Looking at that “dream team” a little closer, Kariya has been a disappointment since leaving the Ducks, Selanne needed knee surgery desperately, Tanguay was soon to be trade bait, and there weren’t many players after that. Liles was unseasoned, a few players were traded away for scraps, and there was plenty of dead weitght to go around (Cummins, Worrell, Gratton, Sauve). I mean, come on, it was a good idea to bring in Tommy Salo as a veteran backup?

I mean, seriously, is it Granato’s fault that Paul freaking Kariya scored only 11 goals that season? He had 36 points in 51 games. Must be Granato’s fault.

Worst Power Play:

This season, the power play was at it’s worst ever, ranking in the bottom of the league. And while the power play may be on Granato’s shoulders, it’s the head coach who holds the ultimate responsibility. I think we saw enough this season to realize that Coach Q had very little in the way of strategy, other than making constant line changes.

Know your Lineup:

It was pretty obvious that Coach Q, in his few years with the team, had little understanding of the players he was lording over. Line combo after line combo, you would rarely go an entire period before things were “mixed up.” I have yet to understand how that is good for a team, but hey, whatever. Granato has been with the team for long enough to have a handle on things. He knows his players, and should know what to expect. And hopefully, where to put them.

Playoffs:

Maybe this is where I can’t figure out why people are so hacked off about Granato. It wasn’t Granato who missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. And when you look at it, with Paul Kariya playing ONE playoff game, and Teemu getting only assists, how much more do you want from your “dream team?” Heck ,even Blake missed two games, and Tanguay missed three. I’m just not seeing the issue here. Making it past the Stars may seem like an easy task, but I beg to differ.

Doing something:

Coach Q never did anything on the bench, except get hacked off at the refs every so often. It was like this mustache had a death grip on his lips. Granato, on the other hand, is a fire plug. Remember his yelling match with Mike Babcock? Sure, it was dumb, but it sure was entertaining. I give him points just for being passionate.

Grooming:

What do you think Granato has been doing for the past few years? Being moved up again makes me believe that he has earned the position. At least, that’s what I want to believe, and I will until proven otherwise.

In a nutshell, I’m going to give Granato the benifit of the doubt here. I know I’m not going to change any minds on this one, and frankly, that isn’t my job. That’s up to Coach G.

But just to be clear on my stance here, in the past few seasons, under Coach Q, the Avs:

  • Missed the playoffs for the first time
  • Got seriously owned by the Red Wings
  • Lacked stability in every department
  • Needed last minute band aids at the trade deadline just to make it into the playoffs

Frankly, I’m ready to look towards the past for a little bit here. That’s what the playoffs were about, why not next seasoon?

Welcome back, Coach G.

Nah-Nah-Nah, Hey-Hey-Hey, Goodbye

And as they said in forth grade, don’t let the door hit you.

Coach Q got the axe listened to the fans grew a brain and the Avalanche mutually agreed that it was freaking obvious was past time to be losing wasn’t a damn stand up comedy special was just best if we all moved on and started winning games maybe had a shot in hell could maybe get a clue sell a few tickets start to score goals on the power play have a strategy when star players are injured adapt to the new NHL stop trying to play arena football parted ways.

Can you tell how I feel about this?

I don’t feel the need to recount how little I liked Coach Q, but I will say that I am not surprised. Missing the playoffs for the first time in franchise history was enough for me, but then to continue down the same path, expecting different results, was the perfect indicator that things were never going to be a good fit.

I wonder if this is part of what is factoring into Joe Sakic’s decision to return to the team. Would you want to just go through more of the same? I always felt that this was a team with the elements to do well, to succeed, but was always in search of an identity on the ice. FG gave the players all the confidence in the world, but losing a few obvious choices, signing a few free agents, but leaving the team mostly intact. I think that is still a good idea (minus one body in net), and the right person behind the bench could bring that out in the team.

Who’s it going to be?

What’s This Then? With Updates!

Hey, how about this:

“This team that everyone said wouldn’t go anywhere made it to the second round of the playoffs and I think we should be really proud of them,” said one woman.

“I’m feeling pretty bad, pretty disappointed. But next year … we’re gonna get our cup!” said another fan.

No, that isn’t about the Avalanche, it’s about the Canadiens. From the CBC, the word is that the streets of Montreal are calm tonight, following the Habs elimination from the playoffs. Which is strange, that a first round win over the Bruins, whom the Canadiens traditionally own, draws fools rioting, and this draws flies. And people wonder why the world doesn’t understand French-Canada. It takes so few…

But I love those quotes. It reminds me that the Habs and Avalanche are linked in many strange ways (mostly by their goalies). I know that they are miles apart in many ways, but tonight, I know how those fans feel.

Let’s Go Update:

Last post, I mentioned what I was looking forward to now that the Avs are out of the playoffs. Saturday, the Colorado Mammoth were eliminated by the Calgary Roughnecks 15-13 in the first round (lacrosse playoffs are only one game per round). Also, the Colorado Eagles lost 5-1 to the Arizona Sundogs. It was not a night to be a team that I root for.

Quick note: The Avalanche were swept from the playoffs, as were the Denver Nuggets, and the Colorado Rockies (in the world series, mind you). The Mammoth got eliminated in one game, which isn’t much of a stretch to say that they were swept. I doubt the Broncos are even going to make it to the playoffs, so I think they are safe from what seems to be a Denver curse. Since the Eagles play outside of Fort Collins (40 miles North of Denver), I’m hoping they are safe. In the CHL, anything can happen, and usually does.

Avs Done: What Now?

Now that the Avalanche have ended their season so unceremoniously, what now?

Let’s Go, Mammoth:

The Colorado Mammoth of the NLL (National Lacrosse League) start the playoffs Saturday against the Calgary Roughnecks. It’s not hockey, but I like it.

Let’s Go, Eagles:

The Colorado Eagles are already in their playoff series, against the Arizona Sundogs in the Central Hockey League. If the Eagles win, it will be back to back cups, and three in five years of existence.

Let’s Go, Someone:

It’s still the playoffs, and hockey is still alive. It looks like I have to get behind a Pacific Division team for a little while, then I can re-evaluate. It’s still the most exciting time of year.

Let’s Go, Mud Hens:

Being in Florida for the next seven weeks, then on to DC, I will have plenty of opportunity to take in some minor league baseball. Although I would not consider myself a baseball fan, I love going to minor league parks, almost as much as I enjoy going to minor league hockey games.

Let’s Go, Tapeleg:

I have at least one new project I want to get off the ground in the next few months, and will be working towards those goals. I will need a little help, such as possible logo design, but that can wait for now.

Until then, there is hockey left to watch.