SCF Game 3: Neil says

Vezina Winners Do YogaThere was a lot going on in this game.  And it may take more than one post to say what I think.  But here we go.

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When I was in Lake Placid earlier in the year, the television at the Lake Placid Brewing Company was showing a ‘Top Ten’ show about the biggest hitters in the late 90s / early ’00s.  I don’t remember the era, but I remember three things: It wasn’t that long ago, I cringed a lot, and the hits were high.  It was a ‘what-would-be-illegal’ in today’s NHL 101.

They were brutal hits, and most of them were the type of check that was celebrated when they were issued by Scott Stevens.  Shoulders to heads, things that saner people would say were too much, too aggressive, too dangerous.

Take a look at the cover of this past week’s issue of MacLean’s, which is like the Newsweek of Canada:

MacLeans

This is a problem, and for it to happen on the biggest stage of the game, isn’t something the league should be happy with.

No one cares what a North – South hit is.  No one cares what the criteria is for a ‘legal check to the head.’  No one cares if it was a half second late, or a whole second late (NHL Network says 29 frames, and it’s 30 frames in a second, as though it matters).  They care that a player was carted off the ice on a stretcher.

People will say that you have to keep your head up.  That you can’t ‘admire’ your pass.  That Horton was just as at fault for the hit as Rome.  That his head hit the ice, and that’s what really was the issue.

But they are wrong.

When I go to work tomorrow, people are going to ask me about the hit.  They are going to ask how it’s OK for a player to leave on a stretcher.  They are going to ask why a guy would target the head like that.  They will ask me what is wrong with these guys.   They are going to ask me about it because they aren’t hockey fans.  I’ve been in this position before, and I don’t have any good answers.  They aren’t hockey fans, and they don’t know that hockey fans don’t find this acceptable.

This can’t be acceptable any longer.  As much as people want to see another Paul Kariya in 2003, it isn’t a risk worth taking.  You can not allow for these kinds of hits to be explained away.  You can’t have people leaving the ice on stretchers, with their heads immobilized, wondering about not only them, but their families, from the aftermath of open ice hits.  Accidents happen, but this was no accident.  This may not have been an intent to injure, but no one intends to do anything destructive after they have a moment to think about it.  Like it or not, a player has to be responsible for their actions on the ice.

And when you are talking about the world’s biggest stage for hockey, you can’t sit back and wait for the other shoe to drop.  It just did.

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I’ll have more about head hits later in the month, probably after the finals.  For now, here’s the rest of my notes:

- Look at the Marchand goal.  There was Roberto Luongo on his belly again.  How much video do you think Luongo has seen of himself lying on his stomach while the goal horn sounds?

- When Milan Lucic took his slashing penalty, Alberts should have taken a penalty for closing his hand on the puck.  That’s just the rules, folks.

- OK, Lapierre was funny when he shoved his fingers towards the mouth of Bergeron. The point was made the other way by Recchi doing the same.  After that, the message was sent.  Lucic didn’t need to do the same thing.  Message sending is like acting, more is not always better.

- Luongo should have been pulled after the fifth or sixth goal.  I say that from a completely outside point of view.  Maybe there is an agreement between him and Alain Vigneault.  Maybe he was left in for a reason.

- Until he was sent off the ice, Shawn Thornton played a much more controlled game than anyone expected him to after the Horton hit.  You know, until he was ejected.

- Do I need to keep telling you why Tim Thomas is my favorite goalie ever? Well, here is another reason:

Afterward, Thomas jabbed a Canucks player in the crotch with his stick after the whistle.  With the play over, and the Canuck not wanting to leave the crease, I have no problem with this.  Then again, TJ Galliardi may have an issue with it.

- The only real problem I have with the Bruins in tonight’s game was that they played Huey Lewis and the News’s “Power of Love” in the 3rd period.  Really?

- Could you call the KeslerSeidenberg fight a fight?  Good for them for dropping the gloves, but they hit the ice faster than….. well, you can make your own joke here.

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Neil:

I watched this game at a bar, and Neil showed up in the third period.  He saw me writing some notes, and he wanted me to put some things in this post.  So this is a feature I’m calling…. “Neil says….”

Neil says… the Canucks should score a goal, just to make it a game, and not to make this a complete blowout.  (he kind of got his wish)

Neil says… this kind of score is not good for Boston going into game 4.  It’s hard to argue that.

Neil says…there should be a slaughter rule enacted at this point (this was when it was 7-1).  I say you stay in the game and take your lumps like a man.

Neil says… he doesn’t know $#!+ about hockey.  And you know what?  I agree.

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Post game:

Coach AV said the hit seemed a little late.  And that is what a coach is going to say.  There wasn’t much more than he really could say.  He also doesn’t think that’s the kind of hit the league wants to take out of the game.  I bet the league doesn’t want him speaking for them right now.

Tonight was Can Neely’s 46th birthday. Happy Birthday, Cam.

Sammi Salo says they have to focus on game 4.  Did he even play tonight?  I mean, they were skaing 5 defencemen for a while, and I don’t think I heard his name mentioned once. (22:58 of ice time)

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Yesterday, I pointed to a Merlin Mann talk about starting.  I said that you have to write your way out of a thinking block, not the other way around.  I said…

When you don’t know what to write, you don’t really feel like writing.  But starting to write is the best way to figure out what you should be writing about.  And tomorrow, in the SCFblog bonus content, I’ll show you what I mean.

Here is what I mean.  Sometimes, you don’t know what you will write, until you get your fingers moving.  So move those fingers.

SCF Game 2 Wrap: Hey, Where Were You?

Again, I was a third period game watcher, so I can only talk about that, but here are some of the tweets from the first two periods that I liked and kept me going:

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/jtbourne/status/77183601908776960"]

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/buccigross/status/77192786708938752"]

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/ryanclassic/status/77190356155904002"]

Good stuff, good stuff.

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/gsdgsd/status/77175422026137600"]

Hey, what?  HEY!!! There’s hockey going on! What the hell!!!

 

Some other thoughts:

- Manny Malholta looks awful.  And I only mean his eye.  But wow, WHAT A MAN!  It doesn’t matter what he did on the ice, he is the story of the season.  I know they liked him in Columbus, they liked him in San Jose, but they LOVE him in Vancouver.

- The goaltending is often great, but Luongo and Thomas are showing what the advantages and disadvantages of playing deep in your net and away form your net are, respectively.  You could make an instructional video out of this.

- That second goal against the Bruins was ugly.  Just mind-bendingly bad.  There wasn’t a single Bruins player who was happy where they were on the ice.  They should have to watch video on that goal like they were Malcolm McDowell in Clockwork Orange.

- I see a lot of new Canucks jerseys in Toronto.  No wear and tear, no fading, no fraying.  Just saying.

- Dog of the night?  Either Andrew Ference or Zendo Chara.  I’d like to see them fight for the title.  Hell, they should have to fight for it.  It would be the most battle either one of them showed.

 

OK, it’s time to talk about the last goal.  There were about four things wrong with that goal.

- You win the face-off, and immediately try to punch it forward through traffic?  The one thing you see in the NHL versus any other league is the willingness to keep possession of the puck by skating into your own zone to buy time.  The Canucks were great at taking the passing lanes away and putting pressure on the Bruins had the puck in their own zone.  Still, bad choice.

- Tim Thomas chased the puck.  How do you chase that puck?   This was a flash of the Winter Classic, when Thomas went for the check against Scott Hartnell when Danny Syvret was shooting the puck.


Find the missing Thomas.

- Chara. Chara, Chara, Chara.  You were beat. You were right there.  No one wants to take a penalty in overtime, but if there ever was a good penalty to take, that was it. Clutch, grab, whatever it takes.  That’s not the play you want to make.

- Why were Chara and Ference on the ice together?  Do you think that will ever happen again in this series?  Has that EVER HAPPENED?

Guess who isn't smiling now
Guess who isn’t smiling now?

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Claude Julien in his post game presser (I didn’t DVR this, and can’t go back easily, so consider the ‘quotes’ paraphrased):

‘I don’t know if it’s about them taking over in the third period’   …… Um, we do.  They took over.  No, your team handed it over.

‘I don’t think we’ve played like we can.’  I agree.  Boston is better than this.  The stats for Boston weren’t bad for a regular season game, but not good enough against the Canucks in the Finals, who are playing up to their abilities.  They might even have another gear.  They are playing like the team that they are, while the Bruins are playing like they are waiting for the break to end.

‘Zdeno didn’t loose the game tonight.’  I think he split the honors 70/30 with Thomas. But I’m starting to wonder if Chara is injured.  He was floating on the second goal against, and turning the wrong way over and over.  I wonder if he’s injured.  Leg or knee injury, what’s the over under?

 

By the way: Marty Turco , looks great as a broadcaster, but does the job like he tended goal.  #boom.

 

Final thought of the night:  Tim Thomas is good at bouncing back from bad games.  This time, we will have to see.  As much as he has been hung out to dry, he has made plenty of mistakes, and he probably knows it.

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For your Stanley Cup Finals Dead Blog Challenge bonus material today, check out Copyblogger.com’s 7 Tips for Falling in Love with Your Blog All Over Again.  If you haven’t been tending to your blog like you should, and feel guilty about it (like I did), you will like this.

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.