Can’t Argue Much With That

Last week, I took Tom Benjamin to task for his commentary on the Nathan Horton hit. But he nails it when it comes to the Lapierre / Chara idiocity:

1) I don’t like the “embellishments” any more than anybody else. Not only are they bush, they are proving to be counter-productive costing far more calls than they have gained.

On the other hand, the after the whistle pokes, spears and slashes are every bit as bush. Lapierre looked ridiculous after taking the jab of the stick from Chara, but why is the jab okay?

Absolutely. As much as we (and I include myself in this), take Lapierre to task for his over-acting, Chara still gave him an intentional jab to with his stick after the whistle. Even though the damage was negligible, and certainly not to the level that Lapierre tried to display, Chara still should have just kept his stick to himself. If Lapierre had simple run into his stick, fine. But Chara did push his stick into an opponent after the play. It wasn’t spearing, but it wasn’t cool. The after the whistle stuff should end now. Play a hockey game. I don’t think game six will be much different from the previous five, but there is always hope.

I did think this was a little funny:

The Bruins think Henrik’s right ankle is sore so they all give him a little whack every chance they get. Not hard enough to be worth a penalty but hard enough to notice.

How soon we forget Joe Thornton’s shoulder. I’m sure the after the whistle punishment he got was simply… heck, I can’t even make up anything here. The Canucks targeted Thornton and his shoulder, and everyone knows it. The CBC knew it, the players knew it, and the fans knew it. But it’s a distant memory at this point.

Diving may show a lack of respect, but the officials have earned every bit of that disrespect.

Oh please. I thought about what I would do in the situation the refs are in, and concluded that I would put the first pair of over-actors in the box for two each, and warn the benches that there will be no tolerance for diving or post-whistle antics. Set the tone and send the message right away, and keep to the standard. Don’t give up, and the players will get the message quickly.

I think the officiating has been fine these playoffs. We all know it’s a hard job, and the NHL has the best refs in the world. It’s easy to believe the coaches and GMs when they talk about lopsided penalty numbers, but sometimes, you earn what you get. And if you spend any time in the box, your team isn’t going to be happy. Such is the nature of being down a man. It’s a punishment for a reason.

Getting Ready For The Blow

There is a remote possibility, a smidgen of a chance, that the Vancouver Canucks could win the Stanley Cup this year.

It chills me to the bone, just to think about it.  Which, you know, it probably shouldn’t.  I’ll get into that tomorrow.

Since the lockout ended, only one Stanley Cup has gone to the team to make it to the Finals that I didn’t want to see win.  That was 2008, when Detroit took it.  The next year, the Penguins won the Cup, and I was relieved.  I didn’t care for the Penguins to win necessarily, but it was better than another win by Detroit.

And then there were the Olympics, when Sidney Crosby scored the overtime game winning goal to take the gold medal.  I just stared at the TV and thought, “anyone other than Crosby.”

And here we sit, with the Canucks one win away from a Stanley Cup.  For the most part, they have earned their fifteen wins.  They have had their adversity, and they have fought back from some terrible games.  They worked hard after they fell apart, and every Cup winning team in history has had to do that.  There are too many games to be played and won to make this an easy task.

And yet, how they may win it all is going to be a tough pill to swallow.

(note: I had a video of the stick jab from Chara, and acting job from Lapierre from YouTube, but it must have been taken down.  So I have this tweet instead)

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/kurtenblog/status/79354330360193024″]

Fans of the Canucks will tell you that this isn’t what the team is made of.  They want to feel that their team is more honorable than this.  And some of their team is. I don’t blame the team for picking up a guy who dives repeatedly.   I don’t blame the guy who dives for trying, since it’s worked in the past.  But I don’t have to like it, and as fans, we don’t have to keep our mouths shut.

This play was brought up in the press conference after (thanks to Buddy Oakes of Preds On The Glass for the transcript):

Q. Max, looked like you were mortally wounded when you had that encounter with Zdeno Chara. I wondered how you were able to carry on after that. Describe the emotion of being one win away from the Stanley Cup.

MAXIM LAPIERRE: I think we know it’s going to be the biggest game of our life in Boston, and Boston is going to be ready. We’re going to have to be ready for a challenge.

The question offered him a way not to acknowledge the first part, the part that called him out on his antics. Which is too bad, because he needs to answer for it.  And no, not in the violent, police-the-ice way.  He needs to defend what he does.  He needs to justify it in the open.  And if he wins a Cup, he won’t have to.  His Cup ring will be all the answer he needs.

Of course, he isn’t the only one on the Canucks to do it.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/bruce_arthur/status/79362715008774144″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/donlagreca/status/79352833333407745″]

If the refs aren’t buying, then why do they keep doing it?  Because it works often enough.  And if it doesn’t work, if the ref doesn’t take the bait and calls an unsportsmanlike against the diver, it is usually cancelled out with a call on the other team, like a trip or a highstick.  This is where fans become angry, asking why the diving call isn’t the only one.  If the player faked the call, then why are you calling the first penalty?  And sometimes it makes sense.  The problem is that the diver isn’t punished.  He didn’t get his free penalty, but he also didn’t hurt his team.  A little four on four is no price to pay when a full two-minute power play could be the payoff.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/joeyerdonpht/status/79370968069451776″]

If I were the training staff, I would bone up on my whiplash treatment.  It’s embarrassing to watch.  Remember how hockey players are lauded as being the nicest people and different from other athletes?  Can we get over that now?  Can we quit this lie?

I have to swallow the fact that the Canucks could, possibly, maybe win the Stanley Cup.  And if it happens, it’s going to make me sick for a bit. But I will get over it, the fan gloating will go on for a long time, and a new hockey season will begin.  Not soon enough.

Five Things the Canucks Talked to the League About

5) Zdeno Chara is too tall. How will our shorter players be able to punch him in the face while he is being held from behind?

4) Patrice Bergeron still has all his fingers. How is that possible?

3) Why are reporters allowed to ask so many questions after the game? If we aren’t going to answer them, they shouldn’t be asking in the first place.

2) Bobby Orr shouldn’t be allowed in the Garden. He is retired. That isn’t fair.

1) Tim Thomas’s excessive stopping of many pucks.

Reportedly, the Canucks also demanded that every goal after five that the Bruins scored in game three should be credited to Vancouver. Even Gary Bettman couldn’t figure that one out.

Game 4: No Comment?

OK, early day at work this morning, so there weren’t any SCFblog links from yesterday.  I’ll try to get some up today.

I only got to see some of the game, so I only have a few things:

– Someone needs to explain that tripping call on Marchand.  A guy is coming in to clean Marchand’s clock along the boards, and Marchand ducks.  They call tripping.  The CBC said clipping, which was silly.  It wasn’t the safest play, but you can’t defend yourself against a check?  I didn’t like Marchand hauling down Ballard by the head, but that wasn’t nearly as bad as the CBC made it out to be.

– Lapierre looks incredulous no matter what he does.  He has a face made for theater.  Expressive.

– The CBC showed the crowd at Rogers Arena in Vancouver cheering when Luongo was pulled for Schneider.  It’s hard to feel for a fan base when that kind of thing happens.  I hate it when Avs fans do it, and I hate it when any fans do it to their team.  I know the fans are frustrated, but that’s pretty harsh. Sure, it isn’t every fan of the Canucks, and by now, it shouldn’t have to be qualified like that.  When you give him the big “Luuuuuu” one minute for a save, then applaud him being pulled the next, what does that say?

– I said it before, and I will say it again: It is never a series until it goes to the other team’s barn.

– TSN showed a replay of the Tim Thomas slash on Burrows.  They didn’t roll the tape back enough to show the stick checks Thomas was getting.  Meh.  This is a little closer to reality.

– Alain Vigneault is in denial.  His post-game pressers sound like he’s talking about another game.  Like cricket.

________________________

So who starts game five for Vancouver? I think Luongo.  He’s bounced back before, and I think he will look better back home.  After the last start for Schneider, would Coach AV put his confidence in his backup?  I don’t think I would.

Game five is going to be electric.  For all the talk of the Bruins being done, they are right back in this thing.  Tim Thomas bailed the team out in the first game, and he’s been excellent in games three and four.  The Bruins needed good goaltending in these home games, rather than great goaltending.  In game 2, Tim Thomas deserved better from his team.  In games three and four, he got it.

_________________________

I turned off comments on the blog for a bit.  Sorry, but that’s the way it goes.  For your bonus content, check out this post by Derek Powazek about comments.

I got a comment on my post yesterday that threw me off for a bit.  It was a little snarky, a little passive – aggressive, and not worth dealing with.  It pissed me off.  Don’t bother looking for it, because I deleted it.  I was mad for most of the day.  And frankly, I don’t need to be angry over comments on my blog.

As much as we want hockey blogging to be about community, sometimes that community a pain in the butt.  I don’t need to defend  every opinion I have, or every word I write.  The more energy I spend on those comments, on clarifying and placating, the less energy I have for writing.  I want to have a conversation about hockey, but being dragged through the dirt isn’t a conversation.  I have my opinion, you have yours.

Stephen King talks about having an ideal reader, that person you focus on and write for as your audience.  For him, it’s his wife.  For me, I have two idea readers.  Both of them are people I respect, and people who are much better hockey writers than I am.  Neither of them leave comments here.  And at the same time, no offense here, but I don’t write for comments.  I write what I think, and I write what I feel.  If comments are going to take away from the writing, then they are gone.

Part of why I stopped writing was that I was too worried about what people felt.  Read that Powazek post; he says exactly how I feel.  Worrying about what people think about the writing is part of what kills your voice.  And I am no longer willing to do that.

If you need to get ahold of me, you can do so in the comment form up above, or hit me up on Twitter (@tapeleg).  At some point, I will turn comments back on, but not today.

Seeing What You Want

Hockey fans, and especially those with access to the internet, seem to see things their way.  Video evidence, laws of physics, and consensus from multiple sources can not divert some people from their cause.  Penalties that never happened, injuries and hits that were completely innocent.  Can you see where I’m going with this?  Can you guess what’s next?

But this?  This is just wacky.  From Tom Benjamin of Canucks Corner:

It was a very late hit but it isn’t hard to make the case that Rome wasn’t the one to initiate contact. All he really did was hold his ground, stop and brace himself. Horton accelerated into him and provided almost all the force in the collision. Horton cannot skate from the centre line to the Canuck blueline without once looking to his right. Had he done so, he would cut to the inside and blow past a flatfooted Rome.

I think it’s impossible for all but the most dedicated to make that argument.  A step after a pass is accelerating?  Rome simple braced? What exactly did Rome brace against, as he left his feet to deliver a shoulder to chin check?  This is just insanity.  Blaming the victim never goes out of style.  Tom is a contrarian by nature in his columns.  He’s also very smart.  But he is one of only a few seeing this hit in this manner.  Good thing, because if you keep blaming the victim, things are going to get even more dangerous out there.

Luckily for everyone involved – including Rome himself – the league saw things the other way, and suspended Rome for 4 games, with any carry-over from the Finals being served next season.  It seems like just punishment.  The Bruins are losing a guy who’s been a factor in their playoff run, and the Canucks are losing a replaceable defenseman.  It’s as good as it’s going to get for the Bruins.

None of this is to say that the Canucks are the worst team ever, full of evil-doers and baby-killers.  This happens all over the league.  It’s not just a problem with one team, and 29 angels are watching in disgust.  But history isn’t on the Canucks side.  I don’t think this is the character of the Canucks, regardless of what has gone before.  I doubt there is a culture of violence and disregard for other players in the club.  But from the post-game press conferences I’ve seen after this series, there does seem to be a culture of denial and a lack of realistic assessment.  Coach speak and guarding your words is one thing.  This takes things to a whole other level.

If you want to see how bad this kind of thing can get from the fans, check out Ryan Classic’s post from last night, showing how one person on twitter can take ugly to other realms.  Be warned, it’s not even close to Safe For Work.

All of this said, here is what I said on Twitter last night, and I stand by it today.  Enough already.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/tapeleg/status/77903807593447424″]

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.

______________________________________

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.

______________________________________

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.

_______________________________

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.

________________________________

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)

________________________________

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?

——————————————————

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.

——————

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.

SCF Game 1: Ladies

I have stated that I am firmly in the bag for Boston.  I want them to win, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  Does that make me biased?  Sure, why not.  We’re all biased in one way or another.  But what a game for both teams.  You don’t get that kind of performance out of two crappy teams.

The problem with working a theater job is that you are often working when people want to be entertained.  That’s happens to be the same time that hockey games usually are played.  So tonight, while at work, I was keeping an eye on the NHL GameCenter app my iPad for game updates.  This is how I watched the first two periods.

IPad Ice

Not exactly the most insightful, so I thank all of you who updated on twitter as well.  It allowed for more detail that the above graphic.  I did get to watch the third period live, so here is what I saw.

– The battles along the boards were great.  I felt like this defined the third period more than the play along the center.

– The Bruins were running around at times, in a way that  looked like the San Jose Sharks.  I do not mean that as a compliment.  The Bruins were able to settle down after a bit, but if there’s a dangerous time for the Bruins, it’s when they start running around, chasing the play.

– That said, the Bruins also had a few moments where they looked more like the Red Wings, making short, quick passes that spread out the Canucks forwards when they were in their own zone.  That didn’t seem the be the plan when they were in the neutral zone, but that could also be that the Canucks had better coverage.  I saw the Canucks collapse around the Bruins forward crossing the blue line with the puck.  Hit the line with a few more forwards, and let’s see what happens.

– After all the penalties in the first two periods, a no-hitter in the 3rd isn’t that unusual.  But boy is it frustrating sometimes.

– The game winning goal:

Raffi Torres made the expected play, and did it well.  Hanson made a good pass that Chara couldn’t cut off (and if he had, we would have seen overtime).  But Ryan Kesler made that goal happen.  If you watch Versus, you don’t get to see how important the secondary assist can be.  But as Kesler skated into the zone, he could have been offside.  If your skate is above the blue line when you skate into the zone, and not on the ice making physical contact with the blue line, you’re offside.  Kesler was smart, keeping his skate down.  Not what you want to do when you possible have a groin injury, but that’s how you win a hockey game.  Being smart.

I did get to watch highlights on the NHL Network, so….:

– Alain Vigneault said Hamhuis’s injury is a mid-body injury, after being challenged for an answer he wasn’t going to give.  Yes, he said it with a tongue firmly planted in his cheek.  It was pretty funny.

– Claude Julien called the biting of Patrice Bergeron a “classless” move.  Classless gets thrown around a lot in hockey, probably too much.  It’s not a shocking statement these days, and usually ends up being nothing more than spilled ink on newsprint.  It’s becoming a term that doesn’t hold much weight anymore.  That said, you don’t bite people.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/tapeleg/status/76137506734735360″]

– Someone behind the NHL Network desk in Vancouver has a cutout of Oprah Winfrey with a Canucks jersey on.  I think that’s supposed to get someone’s blood boiling.  Whoever would get mad at something like that, stay away from me.

– Nice hair, Turco.

OK, that’s it for me for now.  This isn’t going to be as easy a series as everyone thinks.  If there is an underrated team here, it’s the Bruins.  Don’t count them out.  After all the celebrating, I don’t think Canucks fans will be.

————————————

This is day two of the Stanley Cup Finals Dead Blog Challenge.  It’s not too late to join in.  Just start writing.  Details are here.

Along with the challenge, I’m posting things to help or inspire you to write.  Because I sure need it sometimes, and I know other people do as well.  Today, it’s a short but powerful tip from Justin Tadlock.  Click to find out what it is.  Part two is also worth your time.  The link to that is under the first tip.  Make with the clicky.

(quick grammar note: “Hamhuis’s” looks pretty weird up there, eh? But according to Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, that’s what it’s supposed to look like. I’m going with it)

SCF Game 1 is Coming: Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wife

Game one of the Stanley Cup Finals is tonight (Final? Finals? Who cares?), and I’m still steeling myself for it.  The previous rounds have been intense, and there is no reason for this round to be any different.  Colorado have been firmly out of the playoffs this year since 2009 or so (it seems like it, anyways), and I’ve been cherry-picking who I want to win each round.  A little Sharks love here, pulling for the Kings a bit there, maybe even some Capitals when things looked bleak.  I will even admit I wanted the Coyotes to win a round, but only one or two.   But one team has held firm in my heart this post season: the Boston Bruins.

Last season, the first game of the season to be broadcast nationally was the Bruins vs. the Capitals.  At the time, I said I liked the balance of the Bruins, while I liked the forwards on the Caps.  And take a look at what happened this year:

  • The Capitals got more defensive, which solved a few of their problems, but not all.
  • The Bruins performed some surgery, cutting out what wasn’t working, and retaining what did work.

A huge factor for the Bruins this year was goaltender Tim Thomas, who is my odds on favorite for winning the Vezina this year.  If he doesn’t win, something is rotten in Denmark.  He’s one of those players that is hard to dislike, unless you were playing against him this season.  Last season was a different story, as he struggled in the latter half of the season, and Tuukka Rask easily claimed the starting job.  I think I said it before, but I was in Boston for four weeks last season, and Bruins fans were worried.  They thought Thomas was washed up, and that GM Peter Chiarelli had made a terrible mistake in signing him to a long term deal.  I told those fans to wait and see what next season brought.  You didn’t go from winning a Vezina to choking out of the league like that.  A little off-season hip surgery, and Timmy is back.  And I couldn’t be happier.

(as an aside, I told those fans cautiously to wait, because in the back of my mind, I was thinking about Dave Anderchuk and that he wasn’t picked up by anyone after the lockout.  That wouldn’t be that weird, had he not been the first guy to lift the Stanley Cup the last time it had been handed out.  In other words, there are no guarantees.)

I mean, I really, REALLY like Tim Thomas.  Just look at his play:

 

I’ve written about my love for Thomas before, and make no apologies for it.  I wish he had stayed in the Quebec Nordiques system (they drafted him in 1994, in the 9th round (217th overall)), if only so he could possibly be an Avalanche goalie today, but it’s been better for him that he is where he is, obviously.  The way the Avalanche have gone through goalies since the lockout, they are looking to only draft netminders with the last Kleenex.

But Houston, We Have a Problem:

And yet, the Vancouver Canucks are the favorite team in this year’s finals.  And I can understand why.  They have flash and shine, they are playing like a very complete team, and they look unstoppable.  They’ve faltered in the past in these playoffs, but that all looks behind them.  The Canucks look like a really good hockey team, which is a problem for me:

I do not like the Vancouver Canucks.

Hey, I’m a Colorado Avalanche fan.  It still boggles my mind when people are shocked to find this out.  But as an Avs fan, I am contractually obligated to not be a fan of the Canucks.  They don’t inspire the kind of loathing in me that the Detroit Red Wings do, but they are still there in my top three most disliked teams.  The Steve Moore incident has something to do with it, but even though Todd Bertuzzi has moved on to the Wings (thanks you, Todd), there are other factors.  Although Roberto Luongo is a bit underrated sometimes in my opinion, I feel like he earns the label with his on ice dramatics.  The Sedins are good players, yet I get sick of them being treated like they are possible clones of Sidney Crosby.  Raffi Torres is closer to Dion Phaneuf than anyone else, and boy, am I sick to death of the entitlement that seems to follow this team around.

No other division rival comes close to the way I dislike the Canucks.  The Flames were a lot worse with Dion Phaneuf, but they still earn some dislike.  The Oilers are the Oilers, and hard to really hate.  And the Minnesota Wild are like the Earth in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: mostly harmless.  Oh, one of your players scored the last goal on Patrick Roy?  Yeah, we’ll take him off your hands for a few years.

The only real conundrum here is that I have friends that are pulling for the Canucks with all their soul.  I can’t get behind them on this, but I want them to be happy as well.  Something has to give.

I have to get right with the idea that the Vancouver Canucks will probably, one day, win a Stanley Cup.  The Red Wings won the Cup a few years ago, and the world didn’t end (even though I was prepared).  Considering some of the other goofy teams that have won one, a team as committed as the Canucks are will win it one day.  It’s going to happen, and the sooner I accept that, the better off I will be.

I just hope it isn’t this year.

————————————–

This post is the first in my Stanley Cup Finals Dead Blog Challenge, designed to kickstart myself, and hopefully you as well, into writing more on your blog.  If you’ve been lagging behind on your posting, and want to do something about it, check out the challenge here.

As part of the challenge, I will also provide something to help you with your writing, in one way or another.  Today’s is from Merlin Mann, who I will refer to and link to a lot in these.  Go watch his talk, How to Blog.  It’s a little long, and you have to get around some of Mr. Mann’s quirks, but there are some real gems in there.  As a blogger, you are doing yourself a disservice by not watching it.  And hey, it’s quicker than reading a book on blogging, eh?

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vancouver Canucks Game 2: Night of Awesome

I don’t have a lot to say about tonight’s game between the Blackhawks and the Canucks, other than it was a great time, and an amazing atmosphere for a game. I got some audio from the opening of the game, but I’m not sure if it’s usable, since the people around me were going ape-s#!+ the entire time. This is a city that loves their hockey team, which wasn’t the case a few short years ago.

My seats were great for watching a hockey game, but not so great for taking pictures. This game, though, I was more interested in the game than getting pictures from it. Still, I did get a few.

The United Center is big and imposing form the outside.

CHI_VAN_Game2013.jpg

This is not this man’s real hair:

CHI_VAN_Game2017.jpg

The UC is big. Really big.

CHI_VAN_Game2021.jpg CHI_VAN_Game2022.jpg

CHI_VAN_Game2029.jpg   CHI_VAN_Game2030.jpg  

Warm-ups. It’s always weird when a player is looking in your general direction when you are taking their picture:

CHI_VAN_Game2033.jpg CHI_VAN_Game2039.jpg

CHI_VAN_Game2056.jpg CHI_VAN_Game2070.jpg

Pre game:

CHI_VAN_Game2081.jpg CHI_VAN_Game2095.jpg

Game on:

CHI_VAN_Game2102.jpg CHI_VAN_Game2103.jpg

CHI_VAN_Game2114.jpg   CHI_VAN_Game2117.jpg

The crowd goes wild:

CHI_VAN_Game2120.jpg   CHI_VAN_Game2119.jpg

CHI_VAN_Game2126.jpg   CHI_VAN_Game2124.jpg  

They gave us red towels to waive for the game, but some of them didn’t make it home with their owners after the third Blackhawks goal:

CHI_VAN_Game2131.jpg CHI_VAN_Game2129.jpg

CHI_VAN_Game2133.jpg   CHI_VAN_Game2128.jpg

Really, there isn’t a lot to say. You watched the game, right? The short handed goal, the Canuck players bouncing off Byfuglien, it was all it looked like on TV and more.

The Blackhawks would like to remind you that there are only 11 wins until the cup can be theirs.

CHI_VAN_Game2146.jpg