Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bandwagoner? Realist? Delusional? What fan are you?

This could be a blog that applies to many different NHL teams – maybe other sports as well. But it is most definitely a topic that hits hard in the city of Vancouver because the true fans of the Canucks are very big on labelling and critising Bandwagon fans. My problem is that I don't think the majority of them actually understand what a bandwagoner is.

Bandwagoners sprout up during the spring when Canucks, more often than not, screech into the playoffs in some sort of dramatic fashion. They either slide in ass backwards by the skin of their teeth or they conquer everything in their path. Either way all of a sudden every car in Vancouver has a Canucks flag waving from its window. Every pedestrian is wearing a team jerseys and every dog is in a Canucks shirt (or is that just my dog?!)

I love the Canucks. I watch every game I am able to. Last year I spent roughly $1700 on tickets to games. I bought pay per view games. I tweet games (concretefluff), all Canucks news and write this blog. But when we re-signed the Twins my tweet was: “Canucks re-signed the Sedin twins. I hope they also bought stock in Red Bull to keep them awake during the playoffs.”

Some “fans” labeled me a bandwagoner.

When I tweeted recently that I was skipping the Phoenix-Vancouver game because I was going to a movie and would rather be disappointed by Bruce Willis than Roberto Luongo, I was again labeled a bandwagoner.

Guess what, that’s not Bandwagonning, that’s called REALISM.

I grew up in Montreal. Raised a Habs fan. Bandwagoners do not exist there. In Montreal there are only 2 types of fans - Canadiens fans and Habs fans. End of story.

A lot of bloggers and tweeters were really ticked off when Montreal Fans at the Bell center booed Carey Price the first couple of games this season. But that's what realistic fans do! If Habs fans are pissed at the team, or one or all of its members, they let the world know. But they never ever jump ship. (Even when we say we will, like I did when they traded Halak. I didn’t. But I did boo Price and I’ll do it again when he completely melts down in the spring).

Bandwagoners don’t even get on the ship until they can see the destination from the portside window. You never hear a hockey word come out of their mouths until the snow melts and the Cherry blossoms bloom. They try to participate in playoff conversations by saying stuff like “Number fourteen scored a sweet hat trick last night.” Number 14?! FYI his name is BURROWS, he was born in Pincourt, Quebec and spends the off-season in Kirkland and his wife's name is Nancy - got it, Bandwagoner?

Just because a fan can fully and freely admit that the Sedins fall asleep in the playoffs, Kesler is the Queen of near missed shots and Bieksa spends a great deal of the season coasting on his good looks and sparkling personality does NOT make them a bandwagoner. A bandwagoner wouldn’t know any of that.

I soldier through the season – the whole season – with the team. Celebrating their wins and commiserating their loses. But I’m a realist. As much as I want, pray, wish and dream of the Vancouver Canucks winning the Stanley Cup, I can also understand that it’s probably not going to happen with Alain Vigneault at the helm.

The fans who plan the parade route after 2 consecutive wins in October, who swear every August that “This is our year” and are shocked, truly shocked and devastated, every April when we inevitably shit the bed, those may be true fans as well but they are also delusional fans. Not Shockingly they're the first ones to point their foam fingers and label people who don't drink their team coloured Kool-Aid "bandwagoners".

In the end, I honestly don’t care what you call me. I am what I am. I’ll be there when the Vancouver Canucks finally win the Stanley Cup and I’ll be there every single time they fail miserably too.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sticks & Stones & Sidney Crosby

This post is about Sidney Crosby. I’m not a Penguins fan. I’m just a fan of good hockey and good looking men. Sidney Crosby happens to deliver both. He’s also Canadian. Therefore, I am a Sidney Crosby fan.

I have come to realize that, as a woman, I am not alone. But as a hockey fan, I’m one of the few that really truly loves Sid. This perplexes me.

Sidney is hands-down the best hockey player in the National Hockey League today. I know there are those that want to argue that it’s a toss up between Ovechkin and Crosby. That’s like arguing a glass of water and a picture of a glass of water are the same thing. Sure they look the same but if you’re stuck in a desert, only one of those things is gonna be useful. Ovechkin has managed to turtle/choke/tank in mostly every major moment in his career. Last year alone, he tanked in the Olympics, he turtled in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and he choked in the battle for the Art Ross and the Rocket Richard. Just couldn’t make the goals happen when they needed to. On top of that – and this is a personal opinion thing, I know - but Ovehckin has been suspend twice for cheap shots. I will always, always argue that a dirty player isn’t a great player.

Now let’s forget the dirty Russian and get back to Sidney Crosby.

Mmm…. Sidney Crosby……. Ahmen.

Yes, well Sidney’s record looks like this (in cliffnotes) Crosby broke Mario LeMieux rookie assist record by scoring 63 (over Mario’s 57) in his first year in the NHL. He represented Team Canada in 2006 and was the youngest player ever to win a World Championship scoring title. In Crosby’s second NHL season he became the first teenager – since Wayne Gretzky – to lead the league in scoring. He won the Art Ross in 2007. In his sophomore season, despite an ankle injury that limited him to 53 games he scored 72 points. He led his team to the Stanely Cup Final that season. The next season (2008-2009) at the age of 21 years old, Sidney Crosby won his first Stanley Cup. In 2010 he scored 51 goals and won the Rocket Richard Trophy (tied with Stamkos). Sidney also scored the gold medal game-winning goal in the 2010 Olympic Men’s Hockey final.

Did I mention he’s only 23 years old?

So why do people hate him? Mostly it’s because he has been known to whine. People call him Crosbaby because he acted like a baby when he started in the NHL. When he started in the NHL he WAS a baby. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins about a week short of his 18th birthday.

He did take dives and complain to Refs in his first season – I can’t deny that. He earned the title of being the first rookie to score 100 points and 100 penalty minutes in the same season. But my question to those who bitched and moaned about his bitching and moaning is this – what part of HE WAS ONLY 18 – are you not getting?!

Have you met the average 18 year old male? They are hot messes. On average they have zero responsible tendancies but major entitlement issues. So Sidney Crosby was acting more or less like a typical teenager, he was just doing it with the world watching.

On top of which, now I know I was super young when The Great One played his prime years but he was JUST as big a whiner as Crosby. Is that what most people remember about him? Nope. Nor should they. He earned his spot in hockey history whether people called him Whine Greatly or Wayne Gretzky.

What sparked this blog right now was 2 things. 1) Sidney's fight a few weeks ago in which he kicked ass. (something Wayne gretzky would never do). And also 2) European Soccer.

I started watching European Soccer when I was in Spain for the World Cup. I have kept watching because my fiance is an Arsenal fan and I'm a Real Madrid fan (well, I'm a David Villa fan... so whatever). But here is the thing about European Soccer - it's the most popular sport in the world, it's got (arguably) the most passionate fans (they kill each other) and it's also got the whiniest athletes I have ever seen.

A call is never made by a ref that doesn't go by without a player bitching and moaning. I mentioned this to my fiance and he said "Oh yeah and the best players are usually the biggest whiners."

So why is it okay in one sport and not the other? His response was "Hockey players are supposed to be tough."

Sidney Crosby is tough, he's proven that - the fight a few weeks ago is an example. Unlike Wayne he doesn't need any teammates to do double duty as bodyguards. Crosby isn’t a baby. If you still insist on calling him one, you're the true whiney bitch.
Frankly if Sid the Kid whines or expects to be treated with extra care, he should. He’s better than you.

Friday, September 24, 2010

2010-2011 Playoff Predictions

Okay, this is it. I’ve consulted my tarot cards, my magic eight ball, my lucky Chihuahua foot and sacrificed a goat (don’t worry San Fermin friends, it’s not the goat from Pamplona).

And here it is. My predictions for the 2010-2011 NHL Season.

New Jersey Devils
Washington Capitals
Pittsburgh Penguins
Buffalo Sabres
Florida Panthers
Boston Bruins
New York Rangers
Toronto Maple Leafs
Philadelphia Flyers
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Tampa Bay Lightning
Atlanta Thrashers
New York Islanders
Carolina Hurricanes

I know, I love to watch them fail too, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are actually going to see the benefits of Brian Burke’s hard, smart work this year. A full season with JS Giguere will help as will the addition of Phaneuf and Versteeg. The Rangers will make the cut this year, as long as Gaborik isn’t sidelined by injuries. The Pens will continue rely on the Russian Frankenstein, Evgeni Malkin and the Canada’s Golden Child (and my not-so secret crush) Sidney Crosby. The Devils will be the only surprise here. They’ll not only do well (they always do well) but this year they’ll take top honours with the help of Kovalchuk, Jason Arnott, Patrick Elias and Olympic Silver medallist Zach Parise. In not surprising news, Pierre Gauthier’s gamble on Price won’t payoff. Despite the best efforts of Gionta, Gomez and the gang, the Canadiens won’t come close to the playoffs this year.

Detroit Red Wings
Vancouver Canucks
Chicago Blackhawks
San Jose Sharks
Los Angeles Kings
St. Louis Blues
Phoenix Coyotes
Calgary Flames

Anaheim Ducks
Minnesota Wild
Colorado Avalanche
Nashville Predators
Columbus Blue Jackets
Edmonton Oilers
Dallas Stars
Shocked? I know a lot of people think the Bad News Bears story of the Phoenix Coyotes last year was a One Hit Wonder thing but I disagree. Maybe the limbo state of their club gives them a chance to focus more on hockey and less on hockey politics. Whatever the reason they work harder than most and it will pay off again. Vancouver’s acquisition of Malholtra will be a key in their success and I see Torres also making a big positive impact. The Flames are angry about last season and that’ll be enough to push them into playoff ranks. The Kings young, fresh line up will only be made stronger by vetran Willie Mitchell, if he stays healthy, and they have 2 solid goaltenders in Joanathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier.

Devils over Leafs – this will be easy.
Capitals over Rangers – not as easy but still not hard
Penguins over Bruins – quick and easy.
Panthers over Sabres – the upset.

Wings over Flames – but Calgary puts up a fight.
Canucks over Coyotes – I see this being easy.
Hawks over Blues – Halak won’t be able to do it all himself this year.
Kings over Sharks – the biggest surprise and longest fight of the round.

Devils over Panthers – not a hard series.
Penguins over Capitals – It’s a simple case of good over evil. Superman over Lex Luthor. Hot over Ugly. Crosby over Ovehckin.

Wings over Kings – It won’t be easy though.
Canucks over Hawks - FINALLY! With the C off Luongo’s back – and Dustin Byfuglien out of his playoff crease he’s bound to finally live up to his hype – and paycheck.

Devils over Penguins – I heart you Sid, but this isn’t going to be your year (again).

Canucks over Wings – 7 nailbiting games but Vancouver will prevail.

Canucks over Devils.

Canuck’s goalie bailed out Team Canada when the Devil’s goalie melted down. Brodeur is on his last legs. With the “C” off Luongo’s back, he’s bound to finally fully live up to his hype – and paycheck. And after 40 years of failure…. Vancouver will finally do it.

Please keep in mind that I’m a Canucks-Habs fan so for me to predict anyone else would be ridiculous. The Habs made moves so stupid even I can’t pretend they’ll succeed this year, but Vancouver – even with the GM from Hell, Mike Gillis – are making smarter moves. They’ve kept a core of solid performers together and added Torres, Malholtra and Schneider is ready to be a solid back-up goalie. If we don’t have it this year, it’ll be another 40 years.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The "C" word

So Vancouver's beloved LUUUUUUU gave up the big "C". If your shocked by this, you're an idiot. The media was buzzing after last season that it should be removed but Gillis - the General Manager from hell - had always said the decision would be Luongo's. And Monday before training camp Luongo gave up the "C". He told reporters; "I enjoyed the experience. It was fun. I took a lot of pride in it, and that was one of the main reasons it was tough for me to come to this decision."

Mike Gillis, GM from H, of course said that Bobby Lou made the right decision and Luongo can now solely focus on winning instead of dealing with heightened pressure and expectations.


I'm not hopeful that this'll improve the Vancouver Canucks chances at winning a Stanley Cup but that's because I don't blame the goalie for the perpetual Playoff meltdowns. I think it has more to do with Vingeault's coaching style, Gillis bad decisions off the ice (I'm looking at you Andrew Alberts) and the coma nap that the Canucks defense and the Sedin twins take every year.

All this really does - IMO - is give the future Captain a chance to blame the goalie.

And who is that future Captain of the Vancouver Canucks? Nobody knows yet.

Other teams tend to let the players vote on the Captain position. When Roberto Luongo was given the "C" it was the sole decision of Coach Vingeault and GM (from Hell) Gillis. No one has explained how the new Captain will be chosen. Personally I think it should be voted on by the players but knowing Gillis he'll make the decision himself, and screw it up again.

Since he can't make his decisions, I will make mine. Let's talk about the players who are rumored to be in the running.

First off we have newbie Canucks Dan Hamhuis and Manny Malholtra. Their names are running around in the rumor mill because they're "league veterans". But they aren't Canuck veterans. If they haven't proven themselves with the team or with the fans of that team they shouldn't have the "C". End of story.

Other potentials include Ryan Kesler. Seriously?! Gillis is going to make a 25 year old hot-head, with a reputation of being a diva and a baby Captain? Why not give it to Burrows then? Or Shane O'Brien? Princess Kesler makes about as much sense. Forget it.

Think I'm wrong? Put it this way, just before the Olympic gold medal hockey game a reporter asked a bunch of the Canucks which of their teammates they wanted to see grab the gold. Kevin Bieksa's told the reporter he wanted to see Luongo win and not just because he was Canadian, but because Kesler was his roommate on the road and he would be INTOLERABLE with a gold medal.

I'm betting that applies to a "C" on his jersey too.

Another rumor - the twins.

Personally I think Henrik or Daniel Sedin are solid choices. I lean more towards Henrik because I think he's come out of his shell more in the last few years. Especially with the goal streak. He's learned to be articulate and he's handled the spotlight just fine. And I know people moan that the Swedish are too quiet to be Captain, (Marcus Naslund blah, blah, blah) But do we really need a loud mouth? If Gillis and Vingeault get their act together then the Canucks' actions on the ice won't need so much explaining/apologizing off the ice.

My other choices, that the rumor mill is ignoring, are Kevin Bieksa and Mikael Samuelsson.

Bieksa is comfortable speaking publicly and I personally think he's a good player and hello, eye candy. If the Canucks are going to turtle again this season at least give me something pretty to look at. I know that he's rumored to be traded - like every 5 minutes - but keep him and give him the "C" trade someone ugly instead.

Samuelsson doesn't have any issue speaking his mind - just ask the Swedish Olympic hockey team he was left off of. He's blunt, to the point and honest. We need that. Nothing annoys me more than Captains that pussyfoots around stuff. Also, he's been a pretty strong, solid force on the Canucks. He's got grit. He's got a voice. What's the problem here?

And last but not least, they could always give it to Sammi Salo since he's always injured he'll have lots of time to address any questions the world might have! And then at least we'd be paying him to do something other than hobble around on crutches.

If you're uncertain why I think Mike Gillis is the GM from Hell, because our tanking and his bad decisions (like Alberts, giving Luongo the C, etc) aren't enough. Here is further proof: At the press conference, Gillis hinted that the Canucks could start the season without a Captain.

It's that hard a decision for the idiot? Really? Again, just leave it up to the players.

My prediction is if we start a season without a Captain, we won't even MAKE the playoffs. The Canucks are a very emotional team and they need a centre from the get-go.

I also predict if Gillis doesn't pick a Captain before the season starts then he's waiting so that Hamhuis and Malholtra can play a few - so they can appear to earn the "C" he'll give one of them.

If he picks a Captain before the start of the season, I'm betting it's Kesler. Because it would be the wrong choice and I don't see Gillis ever making a right one.

Who should it be? Henrik Sedin or Samuelson.

Guess we can do nothing but wait.

(If I'm right about any of my predictions then I'll be setting up a 1-900 Psychic Hotline. Feel free to ask me anything... for a $1.99 a minute, of course.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Verbal Slapshots of 2009-2010 Season

A small collection of some memorable quotes from players, coaches and hockey gurus. All quotes happened between August 2009 and August 2010. And yes, it's Canadiens-Canucks-centric because that's who I love, so deal. I mean, enjoy!

1) "I want to be in Toronto for a long, long time. I'd like this to be my last job in hockey. I just hope it's not after the next month or two." Brian Burke after the Leafs began the season 0-6-1.

2) "I can't complain because I was trying to sucker-punch (Alex) Burrows. It's karma." Canadiens forward (at the time) Gregory Stewart after being asked if he was upset about being sucker-punched by Vancouver Canucks defenceman Shane O'Brien.

3) “I pretty much have one comment and maybe I'll regret it. But they can go fuck themselves. That's what I really think.” Canucks Mikael Samuelsson after being left off the Swedish Olympic team for the 2010 games.

4) "I met a couple of homeless guys on the street who know who I am. If a homeless guy
knows his hockey, then you know you're in Montreal."
Canadiens, Hall Gill.

5) "I am day-to-day with hurt feelings." Chris Pronger after he was asked how he felt after a game loss during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

6) "I hate them (Canadians). It's a big rivalry. I wouldn't say I hate them; you have respect for the other team. Canadians expect to win the gold, and anything less is not good enough. It's going to be fun to try and knock them off." - Vancouver Canuck Ryan Kesler when he was playing for Team USA in the 2010 Winter Olympics. (I love it because a) it spawned this. and b) In the end Princess Ryan wasn't happy with anything less than Gold either. So HA! )

7) “Not as much as people think. I think he's got a natural kind of grease to it.” Bieksa on how much product Canucks goalie Robert Luongo puts in his hair to get it to look shiny.

8) "They gave me the belt at the parade so I was looking forward to having that thing all summer. We went out that night and I gave it to someone to wear and I haven't seen the thing since." Chicago Blackhawk Patrick Kane on the Heavyweight belt that the team passed around after each game during the playoffs. (Proof that the Hawks are retarded and Patrick is their King. ;-))

9) "Halak was, in every way, the "feel good" story of the season for the Canadiens. Nothing is engraved in stone, but he was everybody's biggest hope for the team to do even better and go farther in its 18th rebuilding year." Famed Sportscaster Red Fisher on the Montreal Canadiens' trading Jaraslov Halak.

10) "I thought we had a good chance to win the Stanley Cup this year. And I would have bet my house that they wouldn't have beaten us three games in a row and we would have only scored three goals in almost 140 shots." Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau after losing in Game 7 of Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs to the Montreal Canadiens.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Habs Drop Halak - And All Common Sense

I have 2 other blogs written I have been sitting on - unable to post because of work priorities - but now.... NOTHING takes priority over a catastrophic hockey blunder. One from my hometown team none the less!

Today the Montreal Canadiens traded their hottest player, their strongest player, their best shot at a solid future.

Premium goaltender, Jaroslav Halak is now a member of the St. Louis Blues.

I feel like I just found out about an unexpected death. A suicide, actually. And in a way, I did. Because any hope that Habs fans had of a repeat of the glorious, underdog, inspiring playoff run - or a Stanley cup in the near future - is now unabashedly, undeniably DEAD.

In this year's Stanley Cup playoffs, Halak won two intense Game 7s. He was the undisputable, number one reason Montreal - the Eastern Conference's eighth seed - knocked out the number one seed Capitals and heavily favoured Penguins (Ovechkin and Crosby respectively).

Now fans and sports writers alike knew that the goaltending line-up in Montreal would not remain the same for next year. Both Price and Halak become free agents July 1st. And keeping them both is an impossibility due mostly to salary cap limitations. Montreal has danced around officially naming a number one goalie. They spent most of the season shuffling Price and Halak. But the playoffs showed Halak deserves the number one spot. And finicky, sometimes vicious Montreal fans (an important part of hockey, especially in Montreal where the sport is a religion and the team, something to be worshipped) proclaimed Halak their Messiah. The fact the he was just traded away is...... well there are no words.

Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox said today that Habs GM Pierre Gauthier "probably made the hardest choice by moving Halak" which I whole heartedly disagree with. He made the dumbest choice, not the hardest. There was no hard choice, only an easy one - get rid of Price.

When interviewed by TSN, Pierre Gauthier seemed to focus mostly on age. "Carey Price is young.... He's a young man that could be very successful in the league."

Yeah Price could be, but yet he IS NOT. Price, who was 13-20-5 with a 2.77 average and a .912 save percentage, has struggled to find consistency at the NHL level. Furthermore, the only thing Price has been consistent about is meltingdown. Carey Price lost his temper (after letting in too many easy goals), and started hurling the pucks at the backs of celebrating Penguins players. During the playoffs. Not once, but TWICE. This garnered an unsportsmalike penalty.

Canadiens GM Gauthier thinks we should have THAT over a Halak who stopped 131 shots out of 134 that came his way by the number 1 team in the league. WTF?!

Halak was ranked fourth in the NHL in save percentage (.940), ninth in goals against average (2.40) and was tied for fifth with five shutouts. He was traded away for two players - Lars Eller and Ian Schultz - who've played mostly in the minors for the last year. But, shockingly, Gauthier happily refers to them as "young" and, according to Damien Cox, "cheap talent".

The biggest victim in all this is Montreal fans who - as stated earlier - have, with this trade, lost all real hope at regaining the dynasty they once had. But the second biggest victim is Carey Price. Because he's going to be the recipient of all the fans' fierce anger. He'll step out on that ice next season and the boos and jeers may actually crumble the Bell Centre. This won't be coming from me though, because my Habs jersey - circa 1988 with Stephane Richer's name and number - is now heading for the attic. I will not, cannot, flatout REFUSE to further support a team that makes such an unfathomable, insane decisions.

So... my last words to the organization I have cheered for the last 24 years...

Dear Pierre Gauthier, you can take your "young" goalie and your "cheap talent" and shove it up your Molson-drinking arse. I hope you choke on your poutine. I am done with you and your organization. J'ai juste une chose a dire maitenant - GO BLUES!!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Conference Finals & Stanley Cup Predictions

Conference Finals – Best and Worst

Well, it’s a sad day for true hockey fans. The conference finals are done and the teams that emerged victorious are not the most talented ones.

Best Series
This is like picking the best of the worst. Both series were craptastic. But I have to give it to Montreal-Philadelphia because at least Montreal put up a bit of a fight. Unlike San Jose who simply seemed to turtle.

Halak stayed on his game the entire time. I don’t think he can be held accountable for their loss. Sure there was probably about 2 goals that he “should have had” but considering that no one on his team could get one in the net, those 2 goals were not series enders. The best game to watch of both series was Game 4 in the Habs-Flyers series. The one game where Montreal used their speed, small size and all out gumption to bring their Flyers to their emotional knees. If they could have played more games like that, they’d have triumphed.

Biggest Disappointment
The San Jose Sharks going down in 4 relatively easy games. Nuff said.

Worst Playoff Beard
This guy wins worst playoff beard and also worst playoff face. Dan Carcillo. Wow is he an ugly guy or what? Add to that icky facial hair in the form of an inappropriate mustache (Movember is long gone Dan and so are the 1970s…) and you’ve got the worst playoff beard of the century.

Best Playoff Beard
This boy’s face was covered a lot in the playoffs because he loves making faces at the opposing teams bench. Luckily those faces are graced with a well-groomed, pretty playoff goatee. Maxim Lapierre. What a hottie… in that Sean-Avery-Douchebag sorta way! But hey, everybody loves the class clown. Especially when he’s pretty.

Stanley Cup Winner…?
I really don’t care who wins. To me, the final is now about who has the biggest goons and the best pests. Neither the Blackhawks or the Flyers play skilled hockey. They rely on their Bollands, Ladds, Carcillos and Hartnells to take cheap shots and make dirty plays. In Philly’s defense, they don’t have much else. But Chicago has the very skilled and talented Jonathan Toews. And they almost as skilled Patrick Kane. Unfortunately, those two stars were not enough to get them to where they are now. They wouldn’t have made it past the Canucks without the pests and goons. Well, maybe they could have but rather than rely on his talented team members, Quenneville would rather sit a 276 pound jackass (Byfuglien) on top of the opposing team’s goalie’s head.

So now in order to determine the winner, you have to figure out who has the bigger bullies, the dirtiest players and the most effective pests. My money is on Byfuglien over Pronger for net menace, simply because Byfuglien is younger and Pronger is old and lazier. I also think Ladd and Bolland are better at the cheap and dirty because they get caught less by the refs. Carcillo (if he hits the ice) will not get away with it because the refs are on to him.
I think this is Chicago’s cup to win or lose. And sadly, as much as I hate them and their dirty style of hockey…. I say they win it. In 5.

Like I said either way, it’s not a game I will watch. I prefer skilled hockey and 99% of what you will see in this Stanley Cup final would not be what you would see at say an Olympic level. Whoever wins, it’s not going to be the kind of win that makes you hold your head up high, not if you’re a “real” fan of hockey anyway.

Puck Bunny Prediction: Chicago wins the Cup in 5.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Round 2 Recap & Round 3 Predictions

Another round… another blog.

Best Series
Once again the Montreal Canadiens proved to be the most entertaining team. The Bad News Bears solidified their name as Giant Killers by taking down last year’s Stanley Cup winners. The young rookie PK Subban became Sidney Crosby’s worst nightmare. Halak was an impenetrable force once again. And Mike Cammalleri got the puck where it needed to go. It took 7 games like I had predicted (yes, I’m bragging) but it was 7 exciting, unpredictable games.

Biggest Disappointment
Do I even need to tell you? I live in Vancouver and the Canucks going down to the Chicago Blackhawks is a loss I am still recovering from. The Blackhawks clearly have no problem going as low as necessary (elbows to Roberto Luongo’s head, ripping open Shane O’Brien’s newly stitched head) and the Canucks acted like bullied 6 year olds on a playground. They’ll be a separate blog about the failure (consistent now at round 2 exits) of the Canucks and what needs to change. So for now I’ll just say they had the talent, they couldn’t pull it together and it sucked.
Biggest Surprise
Philadelphia refusing to go away and beating Boston in game 7 after coming back from not only a 3 game deficit but also a 3 goal gap in the game itself. I have no words.

Best Kept Secret
Well he’s no secret but he did really start to shine in round 2. Mike Cammalleri! He’s been a scoring machine and he’s been disciplined. That’s important for a team that, in my opinion, still take too many stupid penalties (I’m looking at you Hal “Giraffe” Gill). Coach’s Corner showed a clip of Cammalleri sitting on the bench before a game against the Penguins focusing and visualizing and it clearly pays off.

Worst Injury
If it’s true, it’s got to be Sami Salo’s ruptured testicle. Although I am fairly certain that no dude with a burst nut would be able to stand up let alone play hockey 2 days later. But whatever the degree of the injury if it involved a ball (which so far every agreed it did) he wins… and I don’t think there’s a boy out there that would stop wincing long enough to disagree.

Worst Playoff Beard
Although he’s the only member of the Chicago Blackhawks I don’t dislike immensely, his playoff beard is craptastic. Jonathan Toews. If you look at him, his whole face is clear of whiskers but he’s got these bad-ass sideburn/chops thing going. It makes him look like a pizza delivery guy in a ‘70s porno.

Best Playoff Beard
Big bad Joe Thornton has a beard that would rival that of last round’s Worst Beard Winner Todd Bertuzzi. The reason that it lands Joe on the best beard list is because Joe’s is blond and groomed. It’s big but it’s not bad!

Since there is only 2 games to predict I’m tacking it on to this blog rather than writing a whole other one.

San Jose Sharks vs Chicago Blackhawks
This series presents a moral dilemma – do I want my archenemy the Hawks (with By-Fugli-en and TwennyCent Kane) to win or the team with the murderer (Heatley).
Honestly, I think I would pick the murderer over the Dirty Birdy Hawks. But this isn’t about my personal preference, it’s about who will win. Sadly San Jose relies on its goal scoring ability more than it’s size and defensive strength. That’s why I think the Hawks and their dirty tactics will school the San Jose Sharks like they did Vancouver.
Puck Bunny Prediction: Chicago in 6.

Philadelphia Flyers vs Montreal Canadiens
This is the worst possible match up for both the Habs fans and the Flyers fans. Because both teams weren’t supposed to here. Both teams have momentum on their side, but the Flyers probably have a wee bit more. That said, Montreal has history, Tradition and now expectation (which could work for or against them). The big factor in this is goaltending and Halak will stop Philly’s momentum easy-peasy.
Puck Bunny Prediction: Montreal win in 6.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Will History be Made or Repeated?

Thank you Canucks. I think I finally understand how my parents felt when I was failing Grade 6 and they tested me and found out I had an above average IQ.

The Vancouver Canucks are my grade 6 year - over and over again.

We have the highest scorer in the league. We have a Team USA rockstar. We have the Gold Medal winning goalie. We have a Detroit veteran powerhouse. We have a stellar home record, a solid away record. I could go on and on about the assests of the Vancouver Canucks. It's probably just easier to cut to what we don't have - a hope in hell.

We're headed into Chicago tomorrow fighting for our lives, down 3 games to 1. We most likely - or most definitely if you tallk to the "expert" broadcasters and anaylists - will be out of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs in 5 games. Because of the Hawks. Again. Only this time it's worse because if we're out in 5 then the Blackhawks got rid of us one game quicker than last year.

Now I know the predictions, odds and favorites mean diddly. The Montreal Canadiens proved without a doubt that the season, the odds, none of it matters. If it did, I'd still have to be looking at Ovechkin's ugly face. But can Vancouver do it? Oh Hockey Gods I hope so.

Last night's game 4 was some of the worst hockey I have ever seen. The Vancouver Canucks couldn't spell powerplay let alone do anything on one. I thought their PK started off good - I honestly did - but all other hockey fans I know say I'm wrong. I agree that by the 2nd it had completely fallen apart, save for a great block by Ryan Johnson in the 3rd. Luongo struggled from the get-go. In fact, struggle is a polite term. He let in that first goal before fans seats were warm and he - once again - could not cover up a puck to save his life. Would someone check his goddamn glove for holes please!

The Canucks biggest problem is their inability to control their emotions - or more importantly DIRECT their emotions. They let the dirty cheap bullshit that is Chicago's style of play get under their skin. They let it make them angry and they can't chanel that anger into stronger play. They just let it unravel them on every level. Exhibit A: Daniel Sedin taking penalties instead of shots.

The worst offenders of course are Shane O'Brien and Alexandre Burrows. Both have taken more stupid penalties than anyone else. Although I have to admit that I gave Burrows a standing O at the game when he crosschecked Byfuglien in the back of head. Because even I can be a stupid hockey fan led by irrational emotions. The problem is when the Canucks themselves are stupid players led by irrational emotions, they lose.

Now, as they head back to Chi Town to fight off elimination, they're clearly dispondant. Luongo no longer has a playoff beard. O'Brien said in an interview that he proved people right by being "Dumb" on the ice and that the odds were stacked against them. Alex Burrows, well again, he acts like nothing is wrong because he's a dumbass. That said, Burrows and O'Brien are 2 Canucks I have a soft spot for, probably because what makes them turn into dumbass is the passion and heart in their game. When they control it, both are dominating forces on the ice. But they haven't controlled it in the playoffs. Unless they can, they'll never be a real asset to their team.

In my humble hockey opinion, it's the coaches JOB to harness this winning elixir of passion and talent and Alain Vingeault has proven in the last two years that he is NOT the man for that job. When he should have been motivating the team and trying to get their confidence back up, Vingeault instead threw his goalie under the bus. After Game 4 he said of his captain that Luongo was "the second best goalie on the ice." Way to turn their frowns upside down, AV.

I've made it clear for a few years that I don't think Vingeault has what it takes to get Vancouver to the Stanley Cup. He's never brought a team closer than he's brought us and clearly - if we're out again in Round 2 - then that's as good as he can give. We need more as fans. They deserve more as players.

I'm hoping I'm wrong - about Vingeault, that it's not as insurmountable as it feels, that history will not repeat itself.

I'm hoping Luongo can rally the troops (since Vingeault doesn't get that aspect of hockey yet). Afterall, Lu's the Captain and he's been here before - in February. He played 3 Game 7s - faced elimination over and over and held it together and fought through it and won Gold.

He can win a Stanley Cup. They all can. I believe it. They just have to.


I believe.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Reffing woes

Last night I could not sleep. Literally. Over a hockey game. Yeah, I admit that makes me a bit of a moron. I hear there are babies dying in Africa or something so I should be losing sleep over that, but whatever. It was the injustice of the NHL that kept me up all night. I admit it.

The reffing in the NHL is - to me - at an all time low. I fully understand that people may not take me seriously because I'm a chick, because I don't play hockey, because I like to make jokey-jokes, because I'm a chick (let's face it that's the worst offense to most testosterony hockey fans). But I have been watching hockey every season (for various teams, to varying degrees) since my high school best buds Anna Maria and Lori turned me onto to it in 1987.

I get the refs can't call everything. I get that some of the bullshit plays will fall victim to human error. But the frequency of those bullshit misses and unbalanced calls (when they are made) has - this year - reached an unacceptable level. It's become so bad I can't help but wonder if we're getting our refs from CNIB.

What has pushed me over the edge is Game 3 of the Canucks-Blackhawks playoff series. The first period was all action from both teams, but the Canucks were dominating shots on goal. So why were none getting in? Well, three clear reasons;

#1) The canucks were playing really clean hockey. No one was screening Niemi at all - not once. No one was shoving their ass in his face or sticks in his pads. We aren't the Hawks, but sometimes - you really do have to sink to their level and this is one of those times.
#2) The canucks were playing lame hockey. On powerplays they were back to that annoying habit of playing hot potato with the puck rather than peppering the weaker goalie with shots.

#3) Because the minute - the absolute minute - the puck entered his crease and grazed Niemi's pad, glove or stick, or he made even the slightest attempt to cover-up the Ref's whistle shreiked.

This would be fine if it had worked both ways. But here's how the evening went for the Chicago Blackhawks;

#1) Hawks screened the crap out of Roberto Luongo with Byfuglien (who I swear was the body double in Precious he is so huge) and went back to last year's ethic of taking cheap dirty, miraculously undetected jabs, checks and trips to most Canucks within 10 feet of the puck.

#2) When Luongo covered up the puck he had to wait a ridiculous amount of time until the ref found his whistle. Enough time that these thug Hawks managed to jab the puck free in most cases and get another shot off. It could be called a "rebound" if it was a puck that reasonably should have been in play. But it wasn't.

Seriously. I know I am a Canucks fans (on top of being a chick) but I noticed the long vs short whistles well before there was even a score.

And the biggest absolute EPIC FAIL had to be the goal when the Hawks SHOVED the puck (along with the goalie the puck was under) into the net and the ref's failed to call goalie interference. And Toronto had no choice but to rule it a goal since only a referee can make an interference call.

Do I get why Canucks fans threw trash all over the ice? Yes. Do I condone it? No. It was still a very stupid, uncanadian-like thing to do but the anger that led to that inappropriate choice was justified. i can tell you no matter how blind the refs are at the game tonight, I won't be throwing anything.

Here's the argument I get a lot when I bitch about uncalled penalties (big or small) "the ref is just letting them play." That whole "let them play" philosphy only works when it's evenly distributed and during game three of Chicago-Vancouver it wasn't. The refs clearly favored Niemi. End of story.

Furthermore, it's the PLAYOFFS! This is when everyone should be on their best behaviour. This is when the REFEREES should be calling everything. You should have to win it because of skill, tenacity and grit not because you're the bigger bully or the team that has more cheap tricks up their glove.

That was truly the best part about the Olympics - and the Canadian's gold medal win. We played good, clean, SKILLED hockey. I love a good hockey fight as much as anyone but I don't love cheap dirty plays or players. And I absolutely hate incompetant reffing.

I have heard a lot over the years about the economics of the NHL and how that Gargoyle lookalike Bettman only wants U.S. teams in the final because "they bring in the money." I've never been good at math so I don't bother to figure out how that makes any sense. I mean what I do know about hockey (my playoff ticket to Friday's game cost $178 pre taxes/service charges and one in the same section in the Detroit arena cost $41. Also not one of my American-born friends watches hockey and when I was living there I couldn't find a game (even a KINGS game) on a non-cable channel in LA) makes this statement irrational. But I'm sure it has something to do with how even if the entire population of Canada watches hockey it's still less than the entire population of California. Whatever.

I never believed Bettman was rigging the NHL. Mainly because I think conspiracy crap like this is ridiculous. But the way I have seen the reffing start to turn this round.... turn against Canadian teams..... right now those crazy conspiracy theorists have a stronger case than I do for not believing it. Maybe Bettman told the Refs to turn a blind eye to those Canucks (and Canadiens... that though probably came in a late memo since even a dumbass like Bettman wouldn't be stupid enugh to think the Habs would beat the Capitals).

Either that or we really are hiring the NHL refs from a CNIB work-program.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Round 2 Stanley Cup Predictions (2010)

After Round 1 is anyone even putting thoughts into this or are they just throwing darts at the remaining jerseys and whoever they hit, that's the team they say will advance? It wouldn't be the worst strategy. I'm going with a little of my gut/heart and a little of my head for Round 2.

Will it be as unpredictible as Round 1? As devastating to hockey pools? Here's my predictions.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Montreal Canadiens
I was born and raised in Montreal. As I type this I am wearing my Habs jersey purchased in 1986, still bearing #44 Stephane Richer on the back. And I have to admit, I let my rational brain rule my pick in Round 1 when I said the Canadiens would be gone in 4. It was what EVERYONE said. But this time - I'm not letting rational thought enter my head. I'm going on guts and glory and history and my belief that I am watching a legend being born (Halak). I love Sidney Crosby (in ways that should be illegal because of our age difference) and I consider him the number 1 best player in the game of hockey, ever. But I think his team is tired. And I think Marc Andre Fluerry is only a good goalie, not a legend like Halak. I also want Sid to know that when this prediction comes true he can cry on my shoulder.... or any other part of my body for that matter.
Puck Bunny Prediction: Canadiens claim it in 7.

Boston Bruins vs Philidelphia Flyers
I knew Boston would make it. They were the fluke I bet on. I did not think Flyers would. So for this one... I have to go with my original dark horse. I think the Flyers are lucky Martin Brodeur was on the downhill side of his career. I don't think Tim Thomas or Rask or on their way down. Plus the Flyers have had the longest time off between rounds and I think it will do a little damage to the fire they had burning. A long break between rounds is usually not beneficial to a team's momentum.
Puck Bunny Prediction: Bruins take it in 5.

Chicago BlackHawks vs Vancouver Canucks
On this one, I'm going to let my heart and my head rule equally - because for once they both have the same thought. Vancouver will win this. It will be bloody and brutual and a gladiator-style fight to elimination, but the Canucks will be left standing. Vancouver will have to win a lot of road games in this, but that ridiculous Olympic road trip was good training. And Chicago will most likely be cocky - going on what worked last year. But Luongo learns from his mistakes. And the Sedins aren't in a coma-nap like last year. And Samuelsson is on fire. And Princess Kesler would probably rather throw his tiara under a bus than let Ladd advance.
Puck Bunny Prediction: Canucks win it in 6.

San Jose Sharks vs Detroit Red Wings
One day off for a bunch of vetrans (aka old dudes) after a grueling 7 game series involving a massive time zone change.... that's going to take it's toll. And to start another series with the same time zone challenges and another young, strong bunch of competitors.... that should be the end of the Octopuses. But it won't be. I hate to say it because other than Todd Bertuzzi, I hate Detroit. I think they play thug hockey - pushy, cheap, and sometimes even dirty. But I also think San Jose doesn't have enough power, emotional cohesiveness or stamina to take on this aged giant. Already Thornton has melted down, Heatly is (rumored to still be) injured and so what else have they got? I really hope I'm wrong but...
Puck Bunny Prediction: Red Wings in 6.

Am I crazy? Do you have predictions of your own? Leave me a comment!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Round 1 Recap

At the end of every round I'll do a Bests & Worsts type of thing. Ready.... set.... go...

Best Series
This could also be called Biggest Upset and Most Tencious Team or Biggest Tank. There is not one sane hockey fan that would give Best Series to anyone other than The Montreal Canadiens and the Washington Capitals.
I don't know 1 single person, expert or otherwise that said Montreal would win a game. not a single game. CBC announcer Mike Milbury said that if Washington could sweep in 3, they would. I said they would be out in 4. But as soon as they won the first game - I changed my tune.
My fiance, who has been a Habs fan since birth - literally birth - gave up when they fell behind 3 to 1. But I didn't. I knew after that first win they could take this to game 7. But nobody - not even me and all my French Canadian blind faith - thought they would WIN in 7. And what a spectacular last game. It was an edge-of-your-seat, nailbiter right till the end!

Best Kept Secret
Steve Bernier - where the hell have you been all season?! Bernier stepped up his game in the playoffs and became a point earner, which the Canucks definitely need going in against Chicago now. Especially if Alex Burrows doesn't find his legs... err shots... now that he's off the Sedins' line.

Best Comeback
A year ago, while playing for the Vancouver Canucks, Taylor Pyatt earned the nickname Taylor Pylon. Well, at least the male fans called him that. The female ones just stared into his pretty blue eyes and didn't care what his name was. Taylor was a slow, sluggish and couldn't make a play or get a point. But when he left Vancouver, he left the Pylon behind. In Phoenix Pyatt was a faster, smarter player who could score. When you look at his performance this time last year versus this year - Pyatt is the comeback kid.

Best Goalie
All hail Saint-Halak! Let's face it every goalie had some stellar and devastating games (well, except Brodeur who had one decent moment and the rest was epic fail). But Halak kept the Canadiens alive - the 19th placed team - against Ovechkin, Semin and the rest of the 1st place team in the league. In the last 3 games of the Washington-Montreal series, Halak stopped 131 of 134 shots! And Semin, a scoring machine, did not get one goal on Jaroslav Halak even though he took over 30 good shots.

Worst Reffing Calls
There are 3 here that deserve mention;
3) the disallowed goal in the Vancouver-Los Angeles series where Daniel Sedin was accused of kicking it in. There was 0 kicking motion.
2) The penalty against a Coyote after Holmstrom grabbed the Phoenix player and pulled him down on top of him. Also, NOT calling Zetterberg "accidentally" knocking the net off to keep Phoenix from scoring.
1) Not kicking Marion Hossa out of the game after his boarding/hit from behind on a Nashville Predator. RIDICULOUS. He was totally channeling Ovechkin who had not only got kicked from a regular season game but also a 2 game suspension. Hossa should have been booted - and because he wasn't he went on to score and dash Nashville's hopes unfairly.

Best Reffing Calls
Disallowing the Ovechkin goal in game 7 against the Canadiens.
Disallowing the Canadiens goal in game 7 against the Capitals.
Both of these were clearly goalie interference but it takes a good eye to catch it and balls to call it in a game 7 game.

Worst Playoff Beards
It pains me to say this because everything else about him (his looks, his attitude, his game) is perfect but... Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby. Also Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane. It's Crosby's third playoff run and after 6 games he still has less hair on his face than a hippie's armpit. Kane's hair growth is even more pathetic resembling that of a 12 year old boy. The difference is that everything about Patrick Kane - his weight, his face, his emotional state (if you ask cab drivers, anyway) - resembles a 12 year-old boy so at least he's consistent. Crosby. on the other hand, has manly looks, body, attitude but not facial hair.
Best Playoff Beards
Another tie - this time between Vancouver Canucks Kevin Bieksa and Montreal Canadiens' Brian Gionta. Bieksa's is the perfect amount of growth for a Round 1 beard. On top of that it's well groomed and evenly distributed. Not to mention it only draws more attention to his pretty blue eyes and full lips (are any dudes still reading this...? Whatever. I don't care).
Brian Gionta is used to facial hair, having a form of it through most of the regular season. But he, just like Kevin, has managed to keep the playoff beard nicely groomed and it gives him a rough but sexy look. Good job Gionta!
Scariest Playoff Beard
The only thing I like about the Detroit Red Wings is Todd Bertuzzi. I don't want the Wings to make it past the Sharks but if they do make it to the Stanley Cup final Todd Bertuzzi may have to watch from the bench. It would be hard to play with a playoff beard tangled in your skate blades. Seriously - Todd grew a Grizzly Adams-worthy beard about 15 hours after they snagged a playoff spot. It's crazy. Someone needs to get Bertuzzi a grooming kit stat!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Round 1 Playoffs Predictions

Well, I was waiting until it was final and now it is. Some fans have a lot to be thankful for - I'm looking at you Vancouver. Others should be crying in their poutine.

Here's my 2010 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions!

Washington Capitals vs Montreal Canadiens
I hope that Gionta, Gomez and Price have already booked their tee times. There is absolutely no way that Montreal will win this series. And it pains me to say it. I'm a Montreal girl and a Habs fan by birth. I still wear my Stephane Richer jersey when they play the Canucks. But this year's team is no 80s powerhouse. They're rebuilding, in my opinion. A few more years and they'll be a contender, but they aren't ready for the Capitals now.

Let's face it, this Montreal Canadiens team doesn't even deserve to be here. They needed 1 wee little point and they tried their darndest not to get it. At least it felt that way didn't it? I hate Ovechkin and would love to see him shit the bed on this (like he did in the little thing known as the Olympics) but the entire team would have to take a coma-nap and that's not going to happen.
Puck Bunny prediction: Capitals sweep in 4 straight games.

New Jersey Devils vs Philadelphia Flyers
This one is not going to be a blow-out - although it should be. Devils should steam roll over the the Flyers who barely made it in to begin with. But here's the difference between Flyers and say the Habs... the Habs were actually as high as 6th at one point and slipped to 8th. The Flyers battled til the end just to make it at all. The game against the New York Rangers for the last playoff spot was a barn burner! Another thing going for the Flyers is that, sadly, Devils icon Martin Brodeur has proven he's at the end of his glory days (cough-olympics-cough) so the Flyers will be able to get somewhere. Flyers want it and they have the fire. It won't be enough but it will be a better series than Montreal-Washington.
Puck Bunny prediction: Devils win it in 6 games.

Buffalo Sabres vs Boston Bruins
Am I the only Canadian who still has nightmares about Ryan Miller? Didn't think so. But I also fell a little in love with (and in awe of) Tim Thomas as he denied Ovechkin points in the final regular season game (and kept Ovie from winning the Rocket or the Art Ross trophies). These two teams have the best goaltenders in the playoffs. The key is that Boston has 2 of the best goalies in the playoffs and the Sabres only have one. Both Rask and Thomas can handle the Sabres offence. That's what it comes down to. Standings would indicate that the Sabres were better but... I honestly think the Bruins have what it takes for an upset.
Puck Bunny prediction: Bruins take it in 7

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Ottawa Senators
Crosby. It's always going to be Crosby for me. This pick has little to do with stats and much to do with the fact that I think he's the most adorable, sexy, cute, talented boy that ever wore skates. I know - because I hear the voices of more rationale people around me - that the Penguins are struggling this year. That they're not where they need to be. But hello, it's the Senators. Struggle is the Sens' middle name. And they don't have one player that's nearly as hot as Crosby. And when I say "hot" I'm not just talking about his bubble butt and beautiful lips. Sidney scored the shoot out goal against the Swiss, the Gold Medal winning goal in the Olympics and jumped from 49 to 51 goals in his last regular season game to steal the Rocket from Ovechkin. Crosby is a hot player and when the pressure is on, he gets it done.
Puck Bunny prediction: Penguins take it in 5.

San Jose Sharks vs Colorado Avalanche
I want to say that the Avs will upset and take this series. I want to say that Dany Heatley (the Murderer) and the rest of the Sharks (who acted like absolute idiots in the last game they played against the Canucks) will lose - and we all know they have done it before. But I think - unfortunately - they will make it past Colorado. They HAVE to have learned from their mistakes (AKA the last two playoff runs). Plus Dany Heatley is way better at decisions on the ice than he is at deicisions behind the wheel. Add to that the Team Canada brilliance that is Marleau and Thornton and Team USA's Pavelski. These boys now know how to win. Nabokov is having one of his better seasons, although he can meltdown. Nabokov's ability to turtle and the Sharks ability to take really stupid penalties, is the only thing that will keep it interesting.
Puck Bunny prediction: Sharks win it in 6.

Chicago Blackhawks vs Nashville Predators
The Blackhawks have been very consistent this season. They're in it to win it. And quite honestly if they don't they have their goalie issues to blame. But that should hold out long enough to get them past the first round. What will keep it interesting and close (possibly) is Pekka Rinne, the Preds goalie. Rinne a much better goalie than the Hawk's Huet or Niemi but not good enough to hold off Kane and Toews for an entire round.
Puck Bunny prediction: Hawks take it in 5.

Vancouver Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings
Do you even have to ask? Vancouver will win this. And I'm not just saying that as a diehard fan who can't see the truth. I get that the Kings Drew Doughty is a force to be reckoned with. I know Captain Dustin Brown can score. And yes I get that Quick was on his game... most of the season. But this is the playoffs. And Quick hasn't been so quick lately. As a realistic Canucks fan I know they consistently and completely fall asleep in the playoffs. But this year, they decided to fall asleep early... like the last time they played the Kings.. and they've woken up.
The Canucks have never had a season like this - where no matter what they get thrown they come back. I thought the billion week Olympic road trip would kill them, but it didn't. I thought Vingeault would once again coach them into offensive oblivion, but he hasn't.... yet. I thought that Princess Kesler might dissolve into a puddle of tears after losing the Gold to his Captain, but he didn't. They are not the Canucks of yesteryear. These guys can - and will - do it!
Puck Bunny prediction: Canucks win it in 5.

Phoenix Coyotes vs Detroit Red Wings
If this was an Underdog competition -- Phoenix would have already won. They finished the season in the playoffs - with home ice advantage over the Red Wings - Who the hell ever saw this coming? And they're brankrupt right? C'mon who needs the BlindSide? Hollywood needs to make this sports story! But Detroit isn't a one-dimensional Hollywood antgonist. They are, in large part, hockey vetrans who want it BAD. And to be honest I want Bertuzzi to get a Stanley cup and this is his best chance. But I think between Doan's leadership and Bryzgalov's goaltending, Phoenix will defeat Detroit. It won't be easy but the Coyotes have youth and passion and nothing to lose. Are you listening Hollywood?
Puck Bunny prediction: Phoenix takes it in 7.

Monday, March 15, 2010

It's all Fun & Games until Someone Loses an Eye

I was going to write a light-hearted cheery blog about hockey rivalries - but then this weekend happened. More specifically, Ovechkin's hit on Campbell and Downie's hit on Crosby happened.

I'm not going to lie I absolutely adore a good hockey fight. I went to the Ottawa - Vancouver game Saturday night and was thrilled to see Rypien go at it with a Senator. And as Rick skated towards the penalty box and lifted his arms asking for more cheers - I gladly gave it to him. Rick Rypien is a goon. Burrows is a pest, like the notorious Sean Avery. These players serve a purpose in the game both for entertainment value and for point scoring and more importantly penalty killing reasons. And whether anyone wants to admit it or not, a good clean dust-up can change the momentum of a game. It gets the players juices flowing and the fans’ as well. But let me make this clear - fights aren't the problem.

Fights are 2 players acutely aware of what is going on and fully engaged in the act. Hits like Ovechkin's and Downie's are blatant attacks without warning and thanks to the league, with little or no consequence.

You can see Ovechkin's hit on Campbell here:
You can see Downie's hit on Crosby here:
Ovechkin’s hit garnered a penalty, which turned instantly into a game misconduct and now a 2 game suspension. But Downie’s hit garnered (so far) nothing more than 2 freaking minutes in the box. WHY? If I had to go lean on someone it would be – and I hate to admit it – Ovechkin. He didn’t extend his arms and it seems that he didn’t intend to cause bodily harm, but just wanted to give Campbell a shove. Steve Downie intentionally and maliciously tried to physically injure a player. You can blatantly see him move his knee behind Crosby’s.

That said, I don’t think either of them should have gotten off easy. Both hits were dirty, by payers with a history of dirty moves. The only difference in these two hits was the physical results.

Campbell was taken out of the game, his season most likely ended. Miraculously, Crosby didn't suffer a devastating injury and was back skating later in the game. But if Downie doesn't get some kind of suspension for this hit then what the NHL are saying is that bodily harm is all that matters. And if that's how they want to run the league, then they can't go screaming a horrified "foul" when there's another Bertuzzi-Moore neck breaking moment. You can't complain about the results when you ignored the warning signs.

Colin Campbell is ruining the league with his arbitrary and nonsensical idea of discipline. Essentially the stand he's taken is akin to a judge in the legal system saying "Yeah, you intentionally tried to shoot your wife, but you missed so no need to punish you!"

What blows my mind more than anything is that the viewpoint seems to be widely accepted... until the unthinkable happens. The announcer (from Tampa Bay) in the Crosby clip actually says Downie was just "finishing his check". I commend Florida for their support of people with disabilities. But the other States and Provinces (who, unlike Tampa, don't hire mentally retarded people for their on-air commentary) clearly state it was a dirty hit. Still not many clearly state Downie should have been kicked out of the game.

During the Flames-Canucks game on Sunday John Shorthouse, the local Vancouver announcer and his crew, made this statement after Darcy Hordychuk was clearly tripped by a Calgary player: "If you're a sniper you get the call but if you're Darcy Hordychuk, you don't."

So because Darcy isn't a leading goal scorer and odds say he wouldn't have scored anyway, we don't need to call penalties? Pretty ridiculous rationale. But it's that mentality that leads to the Referees thinking that Crosby wasn't seriously injured so Downie can keep skating. It applied to Ovechkin too who originally went to the box for a 10-minute penalty. It wasn't until the referees conferred and realized the severity of Campbell's injuries that they then tossed Alex to the dressing room.

Since you asked - (whatever, I'm telling you anyway) here's how I would fix the NHL's disciplinary problems.

Hold the team and Refs accountable. When Ovie boards someone again (and he will) and when Downie actually succeeds in tearing someone's knee apart (which he can do in his very next game if he wants since the NHL can't be bothered to suspend him) the team should be affected by the suspension just like they are by a penalty.

If you suspend a player then the team should have to play a man short until he returns to the ice. Killing a penalty for 2 minutes might be doable but 2 games at 4 on 5... not so much.

Coaches like the Capitals’ Bruce Boudreau might not be so quick to excuse his star player's dirty tricks then. (Murray actually rolled his eyes on the bench and pitched a fit as Campbell lay reeling in pain on the ice).

Furthermore the referees should also have it marked on their file when they fail to properly discipline a player - like the monster known as Steve Downie - and when the player actually succeeds in severely or permanently injuring a player the refs who gave him 2 minutes on a slew foot instead of a game misconduct should be fined. That way they'll be less likely to turn a blind eye or let someone off easy when it happens the first time.

And the number one way to really stop malicious, intentional attacks? Fire Colin Campbell.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Open Letter to Ryan Kesler

Dear Ryan Kesler,

I was devastated when I read that you apparently said "I hate Canadians". I was devastated and fuming mad.

You were the first Canuck I got behind when I moved to Vancouver. And not just because you grow the hottest playoff beard on the team. I loved the way you played aggressive but clean. I loved the passion you seemed to have for the game. I loved your sense of humor (walking arm-in-arm with Ohlund after you had a media-worthy dust-up in practice).

I defended your hair (your flippy airplane wings/faux hawk combo is adorable!) And I even had a nickname for you: "Leg-Kick Kesler" because you almost always kick your leg up when you shoot. My fiance actually ran into you once and got his picture with you. When he told me about it, the conversation started like this; "I'm so sorry that I saw Ryan Kesler without you. Don't kill me please."

Most importantly I spent $300 to see you play with Team USA against Norway and endured hardcore attacks from everyone I know for also buying a Team USA T shirt and American flags to wear/bring to the game. As a Canadian girl, during an Olympics on home soil, you should realize that I almost had to go into the witness protection program for that one! (Which in Canada I am fairly certain means moving to Winnepeg.)

And then I hear "I hate Canadians". And I think... wow. He hates me. He hates us. The people who support him in-and-out through every season - and even when he's not in a Canucks jersey (did you hear the cheers when they put the medal on your neck? Just your neck, no other Team USA players) Ryan Kesler "hates" us. Wow. Like Brodeur said in the same article, "hate" is a strong word.

But tonight TSN announced you swear you were "misquoted". They say that you now say you don't hate Canadians, you just get miffed that they claim the game of hockey as "their own".

Dude... Those Coca-Cola commercials got to you, huh? (Please note I am using "huh" instead of "eh" ... trying to speak American, out of respect, of course).

I can sympathize because after you & Ryan Miller smoked our butts in that first USA-Canada match-up I threw up a little in my mouth every time they played that damn ad. I wanted to file a harrassment charge against Coke with the CRTC.

But think about it Ryan - you've lived here long enough now, you must know. Hockey is all we've got! Our basketball team here in Vancouver lasted 3.5 seconds, the Raptors are.... the Raptors. We don't have an NFL team. The Expos are R.I.P and the Blue Jays might as well be. And until there's more MILF Curlers to keep the Olympic interest going year round ..... it's just hockey, Ry. Just hockey.

We don't boast about anything else. Ever. And we apologize for everything - except hockey... and Nickleback even though we owe everyone a BIG "sorry" for them. We need to own hockey - or else all we have is Health Care. We can't have a Health Care Night in Canada, Ryan. That's not going to gather generations of families together around their television sets every Saturday. And seriously, what the hell would Don Cherry do if we didn't have hockey - sell used cars? Or worse, Toyotas?!

But you almost left us with just that. You, your incredible goalie and the rest of the well-oiled, fine-tuned machine that was Team USA. You almost took our only game right out from under us. (and we don't hate you for it, btw)

Silver isn't a consolation prize, Kes. It's an achievement. One Ovechkin didn't manage to come close to. Or the Twins. Or Demitra. Or Salo. Seriously, you should be proud. You were so good out there for those 2 weeks, we'd have sacrificed a moose in a satanic ritual if it meant we could have had you on our team.

I think many Canadians were surprised to realize when the lines were carved in the ice that you weren't on Team Canada. Because we love you & admire you like you are one of us. That's why the alleged "hate Canadians" comment hurt so much.

Trust me, considering you one of us is the best compliment we could give you. It means we think you aren't just playing OUR game.. your playing YOURS too.

Does that help a little?

If not please also keep in mind - Coca-Cola is an American company.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Congratulations Canada, the best team won!

It's over. That fat lady has sung...... well actually in Vancouver (a very fit &
active city) probably wasn't a fat lady so much as a young, sexy thing in Lululemon pants holding a small dog that was yapping rather than singing, but either way - it's done.

And Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Jonathan Toews, Martin Brodeur, Shea Weber, Brent Seabrook, Marc-Andre Fluerry, Patrice Bergeron, Dan Boyle, Danny Heatly, Scott Neidermeyer, Chris Pronger, Brenden Morrow, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Patrick Marleau, Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Mike Richards, Eric Staal, Joe Thornton and Roberto Luongo are all on planes heading back to their respective NHL teams wearing Gold Medals.

It was a dogfight. It was a nail-biter. It was a passionate, competitive, glorious battle to the finish.

At this point I don't really want to breakdown the game because - well when it's for a gold medal it's more about the path that got you there than it is about the three 20 minute periods that put a medal on your neck.

America's path could have been a fairy tale. It kinda was. They were young, mostly virgins to the Olympic pressure and intensity. Unproven and thereby underdogs. And yet they repeatedly and steadfastly plowed through the competition. Some (Norway) were easier than others (Canada in round 1) but they still got through it all. Some games they depended more on their goalie than any other player, but that's not the end of the world when your goalie is Ryan Miller. He was solid and as near to perfect as I have ever seen. And the rest of their team did find their legs fairly quickly.

Team Canada on paper we were the odds-on, unarugable favorite. We had every elite hockey player. The #3 goalie in the NHL as our starter. The gutsy goal scoring Flames captain, the veteran gold medal winner, and last but not least The Next One.

But yet, Team Canada struggled when faced with even the slightest real challenge.Brodeur was clearly in a slump, and all those leaders couldn't figure out who to follow. Rock bottom for me was the constant game of Hot Potato they played with the puck during the 1st game against USA. Everyone tossed the puck around and no one bothered to take a freakin' shot! C'mon guys, Canadians polite but not THAT polite. You ARE hockey players afterall! And The Next One? Well, there were a lot of grumblings that he was The Non-Existent One. (I wore your jersey proudly Sid. You know I love you, baby. Call me!)

The loss to the USA in the round robin was devastating. Because, hello, it's the US. Our loud obnoxious neigbour who usually don't realize we exist and now want to take away the one thing that makes them acknowledge our existence! But more importantly - it meant our dreams would be dashed with just one more mess up.

But head coach Mike Babcock learned from his mistakes. Lines stopped changing faster than Vancouver's weather. He stuck Iginla, Crosby & Staal together - a great combo. He sat Broduer and his pretty eyes on the bench and dressed the man the World now thinks we "boo" - LUUUUUUUUU!

Roberto Luongo did what he does for the Canucks every playoffs - he held the competition at bay until his forwards and defensemen found their legs. The difference this time is that, unlike the Canucks in playoffs, the forwards and defencemen found their legs. And even when they lost them again - I swear to you the dying seconds of the Slovakia game cost me 5 years off my life! - he made all the saves necessary to get Team Canada through!

Was LU perfect? Nope. But then again if Ryan Miller had been perfect, I'd be unable to write this article through my sobbing and tears. Yeah Luongo might have let in a cheap goal, but it was only 1 as opposed to the 3 Brodeur let in in only 2 games. Bobby Lu was our only hope - and he did his Country proud.

And was Sidney Crosby's game winning goal in overtime simply luck (or karma for being the most awesome, timbit popping, puppy dog adorable hockey player on the planet)? Despite Sid's admission he had no real strategy and had no idea how it got in - nope. That wasn't luck.

Sidney's goal came from determination, talent and a relentless effort to not give up. And if Iginla, Toews, Luongo and every single other Team Canada player didn't have those three qualities working overtime (in overtime and all the way through the tournament), then they wouldn't have won.

Team Canada DESERVED to win that Gold. They were the better team. The fought harder and longer than the USA. They faced bigger threats (Russia and the brilliant, albeit surprising, force of Slovakia) and bigger obstacles (unrelenting homeland pressure and expectation) and they triumphed.

In this case, it may have been the turtle that beat the hare. But isn't that the way it should be?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The 2010 Olympic Do-Over

I don't know why I'm bloggin about this.... I'm too emotionally involved to give you any kind of logical, rational prediction.

I want Team Canada to win.

I need Team Canada to win.

Team Canada MUST win.

Team Canada WILL win.

They are playing the most consistent team in the tournament (USA). They are playing the best goalie in the tournament (Miller). Team Canada themselves, arguably the most inconsistent team in the tournament. (Exhibit A; they smoked Russian like they were Pee Wee Rec leaguers but barely get by the Swiss and Slovakia). They start every first period (except Russia) like they are Pee Wee Rec Leaguers.

Yes, player against player, we have the absolute best of the best. If this was a one-on-one skills tourney tomorrow, we'd win gold. But it's not.

Maybe picking superstars isn't the best idea. Maybe there are too many leaders and not enough followers. Lord knows they haven't gelled - at least not enough.... not like the Americans.

But we've already played the USA once and it was by no means a blowout. And now we know what they've got...and what they don't. More importantly we know what we have to bring - effort, skill and determination-wise - in order to win. Also, the goalies made the difference in the last match-up and we've got a new goalie.

So you know what?

Team Canada will win.

Because they are capable of a win.

Because we need them to win.

Because we want them to win.

Because they want to win.

Team Canada will win the Mens Hockey Gold Medal.

I believe.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Facts on the fight for medals

Random facts about the fight for medals in Men’s Hockey

  1. There are Canucks on every single one of the four final teams: Slovakia has Pavol Demitra. USA has the Canadian-hating Ryan Kesler (so hot but so stupid to make that statement before the US-Canada game). Finland has the fragile but fast when not broken, Sami Salo. And of course the Canadians have Roberto Luongo.

  2. Slovakia surprised many by making it past Sweden but when you breakdown their team - maybe the world simply underestimated them. They do have 2 of the NHL's top scorers in Marian Gaborik and Marian Hossa. Apparently the key in Slovakia to getting the puck in the net is naming your male child after the mom on Happy Days.

  3. Of all the goalies left in the tourney; Miller (USA), Luongo (Canada), Kiprusoff (Finland) and Halak (Slovakia) the strongest so far has been Miller. But who is the best in the NHL? So far this season out of the 4 goalies, Bobby Lou sits the highest at #5. Miller is #7, Kiprusoff #9 and Halak down at #23. To add to Canada's statistical odds all our goalies are in the top 10 this season in the NHL. Brodeur is #3 in the NHL right now and our back-up, back-up goalie (who will only see ice if Luongo spontaneously combusts and Brodeur breaks every bone in his body) Marc-Andre Fluerry is #8. But sadly, in the Olympics statistics mean diddly. Proof? Evgeni Nabokov is the #2 goalie in the NHL and he melted down against Canada.

  4. Hossa, Heatley, Toews are all tied for the most points in the entire tournament. So we've got 2 tournament stars and Slovakia have 1. Good sign. Better sign? Sidney Crosby did not get on the board against Russia. That doesn't happen often and that doesn’t last long. He should scores some this game.

  5. In Olympic hockey, nobody loves an underdog. Let's face it, the best possible outcome for NBC, CTV, every single bar/restaurant in North America would be a Canada-USA Gold Medal Game. The ratings on the host networks would soar, the money would flow at bars and restaurants, the scalpers would be able to retire off the money they could make. If it were Finland-Slovakia - scalpers would have to pay someone to buy the tickets. The bar and restaurant industry in Vancouver would be able to call it Black Sunday or worse - they might have to lower their jacked-up food & bevy prices back to pre-Olympic pricing just to get people in.

  6. Last but not least, Canada is the hottest team. They came out in the first period against Russia like it was the last seconds of the third and they were behind. All they have to do is do that again. They have the hopes of a host nation riding on their shoulders in a sport that matters more than any other. We forgave Jen Heil and Melissa Hollingsworth for missing gold. We celebrated bronzes for Joannie Rochette and Kristina Groves but we won't accept it for Men's Hockey. We just..... can't.

  7. Oh yeah, and did I mention we have the hottest team? Crosby is absolutely freaking gorgeous. Toews is adorable. Brodeur makes up for in pretty blue eyes what he's been lacking in on-ice saves. Iginla is pure brute hot and Luongo (did he get hair plugs? Where's his bald spot?) is sexy as all hell. The only thing that would make them hotter are gold medals around their necks.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Canada vs Russia Vancouver 2010

We knew this day would come. Canadians and Russians alike wanted this day to come. But wait... there's no medal on the line?!

Today - February 24 2010 - Team Canada and Team Russia will battle for a chance to make it to the semi-finals. Yep, this do or die game tonight, is only a quarter final game. That means one of the two biggest, greatest forces in hockey won't make it to medal contention.

And the question echoed around the world is "How the hell did this happen?"

My answer is Babcock. Mike Babcock is not coaching this team effectively and his decisions have been questionable at best.

Starting Luongo was okay in Game 1 because Norway wasn't a threat and it was Luongo's home ice. Both Brodeur and Luongo were in a slight slump in the NHL at the time the games were halted and they began this Olympic quest. Lou nailed a shut-out.

But we started slow against Norway - slower than we should have. The lines were being juggled but I understood, babcock was just trying to find the best fit. And he did when he lined up Crosby with Iginila. We took off. Iginila scored a hat trick! By the end of the game I felt like Team Canada had found their legs and lines. That we were starting the long haul for gold on the right foot.

Then is game 2 against Switzerland.... I couldn't find the Crosby-Iginla line that had worked so well. Babcock was mixing it up yet again. Why?! And Brodeur was in net. We started slow again. Too slow. It's like they're 3 year olds Babcock has awoken in the middle of the night and thrown them into skates and it's not until the 2nd period that they realize they're in the middle of a game. We took too long to get started and Jonas Hiller was too good. More importantly Brodeur was not good.

One of the 2 goals scored by Switzerland to tie the game, should never have gotten in. It was cheap and easy. Luckily Brodeur did stand on his head in a shoot out and Sidney Crosby - the best player on the face of the planet right now - finally woke up and scored on his 2nd shoot out shot. We won, but a tie isn't worth full points. Luckily, miraculously for us, Russia on the very same day also ened up in a shoot out with Slovakia and some how Alexander the Great, Number 8, didn't find the net. Russia lost.

My thoughts at that point were, okay, we'll kick the USA's Ralph Lauren wearing asses (really? Giant polo horses on your Winter Olypic gear makes sense?!) and move ahead of Russia and let them struggle for a medal shot.

But Kesler announced he hated Canadians (way to go douchebag, you still have to play IN Canada when this is done, for a team whose fans know ow to hold a grudge) and he wasn't kidding. The Americans came out full force and Ryan Miller was on fire. Babcock was switching lines like the players were icons on slot machines in Vegas. Crosby-Nash-Staal, Nash-Iginla-whatever. it was a gong show. Babcock had the nation fuming.

Brodeur sucked. No other words for it. Brodeur totally sucked. He spent the majority of the game flailing like a fish. And his "incredible puck-handling skills" landed a puck on the stick of a USA player who promptly put it in Brodeur's net. He should have been pulled after the 1st period but Babcock didn't do it. After a loss of 5-3 that shattered a nation's dreams, the chants could be heard throughout Vancouver.

"Luongo! Luongo! Luongo!"

Canada wants Bobby Lou. And as we fought German for a chance to stay in it, we got Roberto Luongo and he did great! His size, his flexibility and his experience in hard situations came through. For those who aren't a Canucks fan, here is why Luongo is the best goalie choice now that we're under the gun (why he should have stayed #1 goalie the entire series so far). Team Canada hasn't been playing to the best of their abilities. Luongo has consisitently gotten the Canucks to the playoffs and kept them in the playoffs - standing on his head, making save after save while the Sedin Twins fall asleep and the rest of the team shits the bed. It happens every freaking year. And he comes through.

Luongo is used to it. Luongo can do it.

Babcock seems to finally be sticking with what works. Crosby & Iginla were line mates once again against Germany and it worked. Luongo worked. Hell even Niedermyer showed up and made his presence known.

But Russia... was what we did against the Germans going to be enough against Russia? I can't say for sure. I know Russia has it's own weaknesses - defence primarily. I know that Ovechkin has had off days too in this tournament. I know Crosby has beaten Ovechkin more than once and can definitely do that again. I know Ovechikin is a dirty, sneaky son of a bitch who checks hard and dirty (Jager). I know if he pulls that again, we may actually have him ejected. Olympic rules are no purposeful hits to the head or neck. And no fights.

If Ovie doesn't get kicked out for an illegal hit, our boys (Pronger, Weber, Nash, Crosby) better keep their heads because Ovechkin will be pushing buttons as much as he will be making slapshots. No fights Pronger. No fights.

My dream would be that Ovie gets carried away and does something illegal and gets kicked out. That we come out and start the first period the way we've started the 2nd and 3rd in other games. Hard, fast, dominating. That Crosby and Iginla keep scoring together. That Luongo stands on his head. That Russia shits the bed.

That we win. Please hockey Gods may we win.

We can do it. It's going to be a dog fight but we can do it. I believe.