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7 Questions For….Well, Me, About The Stanley Cup Final

 

New Puck Daddy: How travel affects players differently, what effect it could have on the Stanley Cup Final (Puck Daddy)

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I generally don’t write stuff for other hockey sites, but I thought this would be a fun way to generate a post for today.  Russian hockey blogger Nikolay Dudaev asked if I’d answer a few questions for his hockey blog (which you can find here, and is very much in Russian), and I obliged.

I left the questions as he wrote them, because I love how you can hear his accent in them, in some strange way.

Let’s talk Stanley Cup Final!

1. When it became clear that Boston and Vancouver are in the Final what have you felt then?

I felt pumped, because it was the exact the matchup I wanted for both entertainment value, and because I predicted it so it helps me look like I know what I’m talking about.  Hockey predictions are essentially just taking a stab in the dark (I hope that translates weird in Russian) and hoping you get lucky, and I’ve been exactly that in playoffs this year.

Here are the storylines I’m excited about: How will the Sedins perform, how will Luongo perform, will Lucic be a big factor while playing in his hometown VanCity, will Malhotra come back, can Thomas keep it up and….um…….can Kesler clinch the Conn Smythe?  (Also: the potential for the Cup to go back to Canada is cool.)

2. What are your feelings and intuition about the final?

You can check out my explanation of why I think this on Puck Daddy today or tomorrow (not sure when the staff predictions piece runs), but I have the Canucks winning in FIVE.

3. Please name 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses of each team?

Ha, this feels homework-y now.

BRUINS STRENGTHS

1. Depth at forward – From top to bottom, this team doesn’t have a bad line.

2. Goaltending – Tim Thomas is likely going to win his second Vezina, and he’s currently having the 12th best statistical playoff run of any goaltender in NHL history (save percentage wise).

3. 5-on-5 play – the Bruins owned this stat in the regular season, and are leading the playoffs in goal differential while even strength.

 BRUINS WEAKNESS

First off, you don’t get to the Stanley Cup Finals if you have three glaring weaknesses, so I’m gonna reach here for the sake of the exercise.

1. Power play - this one clearly had to go first. It’s operating at 8.2% after having a GOOD series. Lack of pure snipers means they rely on shots, screens and rebounds, AKA a lotta luck (meaning it’ll get hot and cold). Also, when you’re relying on the things I just listed and you trade for a PP QB who HATES shooting (Kaberle), taint a good thing.

2. Penalty kill – hey, I had to stretch “special teams” into two points. 79.4% won’t cut it against the Canucks big dogs.

2. Depth at D – Obviously Zdeno Chara is amazing, and Seidenberg’s been awesome, but their bottom few guys get just a “meh” (as is the case with almost every team).

CANUCKS STRENGTHS

1. Top-end scoring – there’s no bigger reason to fear the Canucks than the Sedin brothers.  They’re effing amazing.

2. Goaltending – Luongo is the hardest-done-by goaltender I’ve ever seen in my life as a hockey fan.  That list I linked to, showing Tim Thomas’ amazing post-season? Luongo’s on it twice, once for this season.

3. Depth at defence – the Canucks have used eight capable defenders in playoffs so far. I can’t remeber ever seeing a group of six as solid from top to bottom as this team has.

CANUCKS WEAKNESSES

1. Stats – the Bruins have scored more goals and given up fewer in playoffs so far. They also have a lower 5-on-5 goal differential than the B’s. It’s not that the ‘Nucks numbers have been bad, but “weakness” is relative.  They’re “weaker” than the B’s in those areas so far.

2. Depth at forward – again, I’m reaching here, this is all relative to the B’s. Granted, Samuelsson and Malhotra have been out for Vancouver, but in playoffs so far it’s safe to say the Bruins 4th line (who is it, Kelly, Campbell and Paille or Peverly?) is superior to names like Oreskovich, Hodson, Tambellini or whoever it is the Canucks are going with. ….like I said, I’m reaching.

3. Um…They’re stupid – I dunno, this team is really f***king good.

4. What do you think will be the most interesting opposition? Between what players?

I think a Kesler/Lucic battle, if they do play each other, would be must-watch stuff.  Mostly because Kesler can physically dominate most of his opponents, but wouldn’t be able to with Lucic.  So we’d get to find out if he really is all snarl, or only when he’s the tough guy in the scenario.

5. What do you think will be the determinant factor for winning the series?

Sadly, injuries.  It’d be awesome if both teams were at their best, but this time of year, that’s pretty unlikely.  You just hope none of the key players get hurt.

6. What is your prediction for the series?

Hmm, I think I misunderstood a question above (where I said Canucks in five).  So to belatedly answer the above question, I’ll say my feelings about the series are “excited, eager, and hopeful” – I would quite like to see the Cup in British Columbia.

7. What do you think how many more grey hair will appear on your head?:)

97, which would bring me to a total of 97.

Thanks to Nickolay for including me in the group of writers he’s polled for his site.

Agree or disagree with anything, friends?

Column: Bruins A Tough Team For Canucks To Prepare For

 

New USA Today: Bruins are a tough team for the Canucks (or anyone) to prepare for (USA Today - up this afternoon)

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Happy Memorial Day!

Vancouver’s Pride, 5 Compelling Storylines Heading Into Tonight

 

New Puck Daddy: Five things that make tonight’s Bruins/Lightning game compelling, must-watch stuff

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I’ve been meaning to put this up for like…. I dunno, a few days now.  My boy Jeremy Brown (who’s great on twitter, by the way, follow him here) is the gent who directed this Tupelo Honey video (he also looks like the bearded fella in the video).  If you like it as I do, feel free to let the guy know.  If you don’t, well, just keep that to yourself.


 

 Good stuff.

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Speaking of Vancouver (wait, I wasn’t?), if you haven’t seen the two videos of Yaletown when Kesler tipped in the goal to tie the game (and when Bieksa scored), than that’s a must too, I got chills.  Here’s the link to the Puck Daddy story, and here are the videos.

Kesler’s goal:

And Bieksa’s:

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I got a great phone call from my Boston-born-and-raised brother in law this morning, already in a near-panic over tonight’s Bruins game – turns out Bruins fans aren’t huge fans of Kaberle so far?  …..Yeah that was an understatement.

Man – how can an NHL all-star underachieve so badly (I guess it’s someone like me who’s supposed to have an answer to that, but I don’t)?  His play has been a little better over the past game or two, but overall, it really hasn’t been great. 

The only thing I’d disagree with most people on: it hasn’t been particularly awful either (aside from one egregious turnover).

The thing is, when he doesn’t put up the points it’s easy to think he’s been worse than he has – he’s never been a shooter, so when the pressure mounts and he passes up open looks it’s easy to think he’s doing that because he’s timid, when really he’s always done that.  And actually, his corsi is one of the higher on the teams (corsi is basically plus/minus but for generating shots instead of actual goals).

So he can still redeem himself.  Maybe tonight will be his night.

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Join me and the crew over at Puck Daddy for some game seven chat tonight.  Should be a doozy!

Nathan Horton, Lightning Fans, Are Idiots

 

New Puck Daddy: The Bruins need to stop chewing valium before games (they’ve given up a goal in the first 70 seconds three times in the past five games)

New Hockey Primetime: My running diary of last night’s Bruins/Bolts game. Sometimes I think I’m funny.

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I feel like I shouldn’t even be writing about what I’m about to write, because it’ll only make it a bigger deal, but….

Nathan Horton sprayed a fan with a waterbottle after last night’s loss to Tampa, then threw it at him.  That link there will take you to the Puck Daddy post on it.

The problem here is two-fold: one, is that there’s a precedent for this kind of stuff.  You just can’t do it anymore.  Players and coaches have started getting suspended for it, and the NHL even added a rule to make that stuff an extra no-no this year.

Chucked end over end like a ping pong paddle, I do not want that in the face.

Two, is that I don’t blame Horton one bit, I only wish it had hit that stupid fan in the forehead and split him for stitches.

Really, we’re throwing plastic drum thingy’s at players, some of whom don’t wear visors?  Real fucking bright.

Someone, by the grace of Satan, just happened to be filming the Bruins coming off the ice, and now we’ve got a real pickle on our hands.  This was something that should’ve just happened in the aftermath of a tough, passionate playoff loss, never been seen, and ended there.  But now it can’t.  And now by writing this, I’m only further making a deal out of it, so the rumblings start, and eventually the fan-clamouring makes it so the NHL has to act (unless they use common sense).

And then we end up with a tainted game seven, because the Bruins are without their biggest off-season free agent acquisition in the biggest game of the year because of something that happened OFF the ice.

Sometimes he helps, apparently.

I would like to take a second to note that Nathan Horton just can’t stoop to that level there (especially given the potential consequences), but you go through the most disappointing day at work ever (literally ever – this is his first kick at playoffs), and have someone throw stuff at you.  I always expected the taunts; that’s part of being an athlete.  But most athletes are aggressive people by nature, and when something you don’t expect like this happens, it’s tough to stay composed.  He’s a fiery guy.

So now the ball’s in the League’s court.  Let me ask you this, Tampa fans:  Do you REALLY want to see one of the other team’s best players get suspended for game seven for something completely unrelated to the anything that happened in a game? 

My guess is you don’t.  I want to see the two most evenly matched teams I think I’ve ever seen play a playoff series (both teams have exact records of 46-25-11 in the regular season, and 11-6 in the playoffs) both skate into their one hundredth game of the season (yes, the records just so happen to be dead even after 99 games – thanks to Katie Baker for tweeting that today) at full strength.

It’s too great a game seven scenario to mess up. 

If he did get sat down, it doesn’t mean Boston won’t win, it doesn’t mean Tampa’s a lock, it just means we don’t get to see the two teams play with the best rosters they can field.  And we, as fans, deserve that.

Man I hope he doesn’t get suspended.

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Thanks to those of you who joined in on the live chat last night!  Was a lot of fun.

If you’re intersted, here’s a horrifically curse-filled rant on why Drew Magary is allowed to wear shorts if he goddamn wants to.

Bruins/Lightning Game Six Live Chat!

Post Taken Down – Apologies

 

Hockey Primetime: No column today as I’m going to be live blogging tonight’s game for HPT.  Come back at 8PM EST and join me here on Bourne’s Blog or over on their site - BYOB!

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My apologies on having to take down today’s guest post – I had planned on running that today (it was terrific, as the hundreds of you who read it in the first couple hours can attest), so I’m a little behind the eight ball now.

I guess there was some disagreement within the family about whether it should have been posted or not, and in the end, I think it’s just easiest to leave it at that.

If I learned anything from it that I can pass on: the pituitary gland plays a huge part in Post-Concussion Syndrome, and our writer contests that it should be checked in all cases where PCS extends beyond 30 days. 

 Anyway, sorry again about that.  Here’s an interesting link to help you pass the time:

New York Times - Can conjoined twins share one mind?

And here are three pictures, the first of which is a picture of a picture.  

The story: at a charity golf tournament last week, we basically drank beer on the course all day, then came in for the dinner and raffle.  You could buy these sheets with a bunch of little perforated-edged numbers on them, and one big one.  You put the little numbers in the bucket in front of what you wanted, and kept the big one.  I referenced the beer, because I skipped the trips and hotel stays and massages to win…. THIS:

Tyson is like....what the meow?

Now that’s a badass kitty pic.  Bri hates me.

Next, my new carrrrr (still needs tint, as I mentioned):

Thanks again, credit union.

And last, a pretty picture of a golf course in San Tan Valley (Queen Creek), AZ – Encanterra.

That's looking back down 18

Multi-Columns and New Wheels

Yesterday was a multi-column day from me, hence no blog, but at least that leaves a glut of columns today if you care to read a couple.  The kid’s been busy with playoffs (and the thing I mention below)!

New Puck Daddy: Underdog status is a beautiful thing – looking at Tampa/Boston

New The Hockey News: Taking a look at 5-on-3′s in light of the Canucks scoring three times in one game on them

New Puck Daddy: It’s time for the stars to shine – all eyes on them heading into game five (posts shortly)

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So it’s finally done!  A couple months after having my car written off after getting hit from behind (not by Matt Cooke, fortunately), I’m back in a set of wheels.  A set that I much prefer and costs less, so I guess things happen for a reason.

I got an ’09 Jetta, sharp little thing.  Low mileage, sunroof, all that good stuff (thanks, silly bank that dared lend me money).  Only thing is, I got exactly what I wanted in terms of colour, which means all black with black leather seats.  In Arizona.  So that should be fairly hot.

As is basically mandatory here, I still have to get the windows tinted in the next week or two, then I’ll chuck a pic up to show ya’ll. 

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I’ll be tweet happy during tonight’s Canucks/Sharks game if you care to join me here.  I promise a big ‘ol funtimes blog tomorrow!

Column: How The Sharks Can Neutralize Canucks D

 

New Puck Daddy: Sharks need to play more puck possession hockey to neutralize the Canucks skilled d-corps

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As a special bonus, I’m doing TWO posts for Puck Daddy today – the second will be the post-game wrap up, so swing by to check that out after game three.  That also means if I’m writing again tonight, I ain’t doin’ more right now.

Before I go though: Boogaard’s death was ruled to have been caused by mixing alcohol and oxycodone.  If there’s any positive in this tragedy, it’s that it at least appears to have been accidental.

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Because I love this stuff: you don’t have to watch the full first video (though I suggest you catch Busta’s verse in the middle), but check out how fantastic the cover is.  Maybe better?

Playing With A Snapshow – No Way To Stop The Inevitable

 

New Puck Daddy: hey, your boy’s on the main Yahoo! sports page today apparently, wwwwwhut’s up. On coaches willingness to adapt, and why Tampa needs to throw a new look at Boston for a few periods in game three. (Puck Daddy – post up a little later than usual today)

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Yesterday, notoriously wise offensive threat Ben Eager played like a moron. (/Reads over post from two days ago, starts fresh).

In last night’s game, Ben Eager took some really un-wise penalties that cost his team, and didn’t represent himself very well in the process (especially the part where he talked smack to Luongo after he pulled his team within four, which is widely considered to be the worst lead in absolutely nothing).

Playing with a meathead teammate is tough, because you know them so well off the ice.  But often, they keep doing things that make you go “y’know, I just never associate Off-Ice You with whoever that guy is.”

Solid beard.

The tough part is, you can often feel it coming, like they just get a look in their eye or something, but you’re still not allowed to Minority Report them and give them shit.  Comments like “take it easy out there, don’t do anything stupid” don’t imply that you respect their level of intelligence or commitment to the team very much, so they get snappy.  As a guy who, 90% of the time was one of the more cool heads on the bench, I’ve been told to shut the truck up more than a few times.

And regardless of if something gets said in advance or not - and again, you can see it coming (hell, we can often see it coming from our homes watching TV) – your Dan Carcillo or Ben Eager or Micheal Haley or Whoever is going to act anyway.  It’s an incredible phenomenon that these guys are almost oblivious to their own very obvious anger.  They just get lost in the moment.

I don’t give those guys a lot of credit, as others do, for “pre-meditating” their madness – I don’t think Eager saw Bieksa fight Marleau and thus vowed to run a Sedin.  I think watching Marleau fight a guy who probably shouldn’t fight him made him angry, and he would’ve thrown that hit on whomever happened to be in his way, because he was upset.  Anger makes logic go bye-bye, and since physical play is part of his role, we end up with stuff like this:

 

 As many of the Canucks said (I think they probably talked about this after the game), they didn’t think the hit was suspension-worthy.  I doubt they say that in the regular season, but given that it’s playoffs?  They WANT that dude in the lineup. 

Sure, he’s scary to play – a man of that size that skates like that is an absolute force, but anytime you have a guy who’s willing to let the Sedins run a powerplay on his short-handed teammates repeatedly, you want him to stay in the lineup.

But anyway, enough about the guy - anyone think the Sharks are going to make this series interesting?

Following Up On Tyler Seguin

 

I think I have to go back and touch on yesterday’s column, don’t I?  I mean, after last night’s debacle of Seguin awesomeness it feels sort of mandatory.

If you haven’t read it, basically the message was this: the Bruins should keep Tyler Seguin’s minutes down – he can become a great player, but he’s just not ready to take on a bigger role yet.  It’s all about development at this point.

Best thing about his goals were his cellies: excited, w/ teammates. The Anti-Briere/Ovy

Then Seguin went out and set the world aflame using his stick as a blowtorch, scoring two goals and two assists in a single period, and suddenly finds himself the topic of every other article on the internet (according to my loose calculation) because of his big breakout moment.

Phew.  Well don’t I look like a moron.

Now, in the wake of that chaos, I feel the need to do two things: first, I need to have a smile at the hilarious juxtaposition of my column and his game.  I mean, I came off looking like a real tool there, folks, there’s no shaking that.  I deserved the public shaming I endured on twitter, and it probably shouldn’t end for a few days (I also deserved the Puck Daddy comment section of the article, which had 10 comments before the game, and 55 more after it).   /hindsight’d

But secondly, I’d like to attempt to defend myself, which I’ll do after a major qualifier, which please, I’d like you to listen to:

I saw something in Tyler Seguin’s game last night that I hadn’t seen before.  I always thought he was going to be a good NHLer, but last night sold me that he’ll be great.  On top of that, I find him charming in interviews, and I just generally like the kid, okay?  I’m not trying to take anything away from him as a player or a person or from Boston.  We heard that right?  Bourne is pro-Seguin.

Still, that doesn’t mean I can’t carry on with number two, defending myself.

The headlines from around the hockey community today range from “Tyler Seguin is making Claude Julien look bad,” to “a star is born.”

The second headline, as I mentioned above, I agree with.  The first – with apologies to friend Joe Yerdon – is patently untrue.

The implication from not just Joe, but many, many Boston fans, is that by scoring these points in two games Seguin is proving he should’ve been in the lineup since the start of playoffs.  Well, as the Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont pointed out, in the 23 games leading up to playoffs, Seguin tallied a statline of 1-0-1, as in, one single goal and no assists over 23 games, barely trailing the likes of offensive greats like George Parros, who doubled his point total.  And that’s from a guy – Seguin, I mean – with a ¾ of a season under his belt whose role is strictly to produce offense.

Right to the teammates. Beauty.

What sane coach dresses that?  He doesn’t have the other attributes at his age and size (he’ll fill out, but for now he still looks like the teenager that he is) to make up for not producing.  He’s not gonna suddenly become a dump and chase guy; that’s the complete opposite of the direction the B’s want him to go.

Acknowledging the fact that he wasn’t contributing is just healthy coaching.  And now that he’s in the lineup with fresh legs in round three, Boston fans should be thanking their coach for doing the right thing with the suddenly-much-hungrier Seguin.

My contention in my first article on him is that it’d be best for his development if his minutes are kept low, and he isn’t asked to take on any more than he can handle. 

And, as it should be, last night he racked up a measly 13:55 – an improvement over his nearly-10 minutes in game one by a bit, but still, not by a ton.

When he was clearly seen to be on fire, Julien used him more.  Outside of that burst, ice time was back to status quo, and that’s perfect.  His coach is putting him in a position to succeed, and he’s answering the bell like only a great player can.

His second period was one of the single best periods of hockey I’ve ever seen a player play, and I mean that.  He has that gear that others don’t.  And while it’s awesome that he has that in him, it’s not always going to be like that.  We were treated to something special last night.

I’ll backpedal a step here on my original sentiment, which he deserves, and say he definitely appears ready to handle more than I thought he could.  That’s what players of his caliber do, I suppose – surprise, impress, exceed.

But I still contend that if the B’s hope to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup in June, they can’t be reliant on the young guy for consistent offense.  For now they need to take what he can give – which may occasionally be what we just witnessed – and not much more. He’s on his opponents radar now, so  the work is just getting started.

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And just because his game was that awesome, that incredible….I give you his goals:

Craziest part of his two breakaway goals (including game one): he doesn’t really even fake a shot before going to his backhand.  He’s just skating so damn fast he’s almost able to deke it around Roli before he can get deep enough in his net.

Craziest part of this goal is the raging confidence: he feels how things are going for him, and knows he’s doing something special.  Even if that shot ends up being a save he gets credit for how incredible he’s playing, so he’s got nothing to lose.  He doesn’t even look back at the pass option.  As soon as he got it, he knew exactly what was happening next.  Awesome.

Thoughts On Boogaard’s Passing, Growing As A Writer

 

New Puck Daddy: Seguin and player development: the dude’s just not ready for a bigger role, yet

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When I started writing about sports, I did it the way people talk about sports and athletes in general, which seemed like the obvious things to do.  Sidney Crosby’s great, Matt Cooke’s a prick, etc. etc.

You guys have a blog somewhere don't you? I'll assume yes.

That type of black and white opinion-sharing is tailor-made for the blog world, especially when it comes to team-centric blogs.  Half the people just want to read things that confirm their personal opinions (what a great writer!) so it’s easy for, say, a Hurricanes blog to appeal to Hurricanes fans.  “We got jobbed by the refs last night,” “Cam Ward is underrated,” all that stuff is fine and plays well to an agreeing audience.

I’ve never been a flag-waving superfan of any NHL team, as much as I love the Islanders – for proof, you can pull up basically anything I’ve ever written about the team over the past couple years, which has been in disarray (but appears to be rounding some sort of corner with a potential new building and player development. Okay maybe I’m a little biased). 

But I digress.

Point is, since I’ve never really been a super-passionate, blind fan (no disrespect to those who are) it was easier for me to transfer my writing to a site like Puck Daddy, where the people reading are fans of different teams.  It’s allowed me to write in a grey shades, so you know when I do take a hard stance on something, I mean it.

Problem is, I’m not as good at going grey on players.  In fact I’m awful at it.

I played the game at a high enough level to decipher who’s good from who’s bad, and I never quite shook the tendency to make harsh judgements about the guys I was competing against.  It was part of being a player – you kinda have to think you’re better than your opponent, and maybe that’s stuck with me.

All that is a long way of saying – and thanks for joining me on that long journey to get here - that I’ve come to regret the way I fairly regularly talk about players.

The Boogeyman

When I read that Derek Boogaard died – and very possibly due to something that could be related to mental issues (I won’t get too into that whole thing since we don’t know anything yet, it’s just one of the possibilities that made me take a look in the mirror) – I realized it’s very likely that I never once typed, or said a nice word about the guy.

And that’s not the worst thing in the world, as long as I kept it to being about him as a player, where nothing has changed – I still don’t think he was a very good one – and not about him as a person.  I simply didn’t know him.

Point is, it occurs to me that writing about players doesn’t have to be so….”team-centric-blog-like” - not long ago on twitter I explained to someone why I thought he was a useless goon (that feels gross to type right now).  And there I was days later, reading quotes from people who actually knew the man in real life.

By all accounts, Derek Boogaard was a charitable, kind, well-liked teammate, and I have no doubt that that’s true.  “Useless goon?” That’s just ignorant.

I hope hearing a constant barrage of words like mine (which were unnecessarily harsh) had nothing to do with his passing – after the season he said he was embarrassed about his season, and we know he was in the NHL’s behavioral health and substance abuse program, so it’s crossed my mind.  I’d hate to think it was people like me, in the media, that made him feel that way.

Doing what he did best

By all logic he was just a guy who saw a path to fulfill his dream of playing in the NHL and get rich, and he did what he had to do to get there.  And while I don’t have to respect his chosen line of work, I do have to admit to myself I’d have probably done the same thing, if given the option.  And he got it done.

I hope whatever news we learn about his death in the coming weeks tells a different story, an accident, a condition, just anything better than my worst fear about how it happened.

If it turns out to be something other than that, I can still take the same lesson away from this.  I’m learning to grow as a writer, and the latest step is to tone down the personal attacks.

RIP to the boogeyman.  And condolences to his family and friends.

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By the way, his family is donating his brain to the study of concussions in sports, which I think is excellent news.

Eastern Conference Final resumes tonight friends, let’s hope it’s a doozy!

Praise For Pavel, Sharks Questions, Boston/Tampa

 

New Puck Daddy: A tribute to Pavel Datsyuk. This was quite fun to write, I think you’ll enjoy it (unless you’ve somehow found a way to dislike Pavel Datsyuk, in which case you need your head rearranged.)

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It’s game seven day, hurray!

Prior to the series, I picked the Wings.  Since then, I’ve been all over the map trying to figure these two teams out.  After game three it was a matter of explaining to myself why the Sharks are so damn good.  It was a fairly easy sell – after the team’s talented ”big three,” guys like Couture, Setoguchi, Pavelski and Clowe are terrific “secondary” scorers some teams would be happy to call their top guys.

Solid second round for the kid so far.

And now I find myself having to figure out why aren’t the Sharks a better team, because it was so easy to convince myself they were in cruise control.

Marleau has taken his lumps since Roenick shone the bright light of TV on him, and deservedly so.  But it has to go deeper than one players failings (when you have like, six guys that are expected to produce offensively, it’s inevitable one or two might not tear it up, there’s only so much puck do go around).

I dunno, it’s fairly bizarre.  Interesting to see what happens if they find a way to not advance tonight.  But, winning heals everything, and a clean slate with a conference finals boost would certain cauterize any wounds.

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It’s almost time for Tampa Bay/Boston to fire up their Eastern Conference final, so some thoughts on that:

For starters, I think it really hurts Boston that they’ll be without Patrice Bergeron – I’ve lauded praise on their offensive depth in the past (while at the same time pointed out they don’t really have a stud), but it’s in the faceoff circle and the d-zone that his absence will be felt.

I predict a five point series for Kabernet

By the way, thought that just popped into my head before I carry on: Tampa has four (three for sure) players who would be the top offensive player on Boston (if Simon Gagne were healthy), and the Bruins outscored them as a team this year.  Describes how they go about business nicely I think.

Anyway, without Bergeron, the series gets tighter.  Tampa looked to be in machine mode against Washington on top of that, and there’s reason to believe that with the ever-underrated Dwayne Roloson in net, that they should be able to give the Bruins fits.

That said, I think it’s Boston’s time.  This team suffered through a playoff collapse last year and desperately patched the holes before trade deadline, which I think they accomplished nicely.

Here’s a big secret too: Tomas Kaberle doesn’t suck.  He’s not going to struggle like this forever, meaning it can only get better for him (the way it got better for Lucic after a slow first round).  He hasn’t played at playoff pace in awhile, give him a hot sec.

It’s going to be a battle, but in the end, my money is on the B’s.  I’ll say it goes seven, just to demonstrate how serious I am about it not being a walk for them. 

It should be a fun series, things are shaping up nicely for the matchups!

A Column: Looking at the San Jose Sharks Failure to Communicate

 

New Hockey Primetime: Y’know, what the title of the column is.  A video breakdown of what’s going wrong for the Sharkulars in the d-zone. (Should be us soon friends! Until then…. Hockey Primetime).

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Todd Reynolds and the Gay Marriage “Debate,” and A Terminology Fix?

 

New Puck Daddy: Some technicalish hockey stuff, on how teams tighten up during close games

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Howdy folks! 

If you missed Elliotte Friedman’s constantly praise-worthy “30 Thoughts” column this week, you can find it here.  Dude knows what he’s talking about.

Anytime you make 30 separate points, people aren’t going to agree with everything, and I’m no different – I quibbled with two things he mentioned this week (a higher total than usually, impressively).

My first minor beef that gives me an excuse to rant:

I’m sure most of you are up on the story about the sports agent (Todd Reynolds) who tweeted from the company account (@UptownHockey) that he was saddened to learn that Sean Avery had spoken out on a PSA for “Equality for Everyone,” which is a sentence I can’t believe I just had to type.  Avery was supporting gay marriage (which will always be wrong, Reynolds explained), cause, y’know, EQUALITY FOR EVERYONE.

Anyway (and yes, I realize the sensitivity meter is jacked up a little high from me on this one, but it’s really just a good jumping off point for me) Elliotte wrote a fairly harmless sentence in his post worth chatting about:

It’s a passionate debate with a lack of intelligent reaction on both sides.

While I’m not sure there’s a “lack on intelligent reaction” from the side that’s for equality – try pulling up the thoughts of Bruce Arthur (radio), Greg Wyshynski (linked above), and Joe Yerdon to get started - I’m almost certain that the word “debate” in there is giving one side of whatever-you-want-to-call-this-madness too much credit.

Not to get too strong in my tone here, but it’s kind of like “debating” with your toddler at the grocery store about whether you should save your money or buy 50,000 boxes of Sugar Bombs cereal.  Logic prevails pretty handily (as much as I love sugary cereals).

The only points I’ve heard against gay marriage in the past day or two involved something about it being a slippery slope before a man can marry a horse (no seriously, someone said that, I’ll try to find the link), and then Todd Reynolds implying on TSN Radio (which I’m on tomorrow at 11amEST to discuss this) that he’d be okay if gay couples ”found a way around it, maybe call it something different or something.”

Gayrriage?  Shmarriage, maybe?

That’s not a debate.  That’s nonsense.

I understand the religious aspect that needs to be mentioned – I grew up with religion as a part of my life so I get it, but frankly, I don’t feel the need to get into my beliefs to defend the stance that as long as we’re here on this earth, and nobody knows anything for damn sure, we need to treat one another like equals.  That’s what everything boils down to.  Do unto others and all that good stuff.

And that argument doesn’t lack intelligent reaction.  That’s flat-out logical.

As George Takei frequently tweets, gay rights are human rights.

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My second, and far more minor quibble is on a comment that I’m seeing damn near everywhere, especially on twitter (follow me here, or I’ll kick my kitten) – something to the effect of “can we please stop using the term “mild” concussion,” or as he put it,

“Can we please stop using the term ‘minor’ concussion. No such thing.”

Now, those of you who read my stuff fairly regularly know I’m sensitive to the serious nature of concussions.  No two are alike, and the same hit affects different players in different ways. 

That said, medical staffs are often able to project, based on a player’s symptoms and how they do on the baseline concussion test, a very rough guidline for their return.  If Marc Savard gets Matt Cooked again, and is periodically blacking out and on the verge of puking while repeating himself, he’s in a worse pickle than a guy who’s a little foggy and feels okay on the treadmill two days after the big hit.

When the media wants to know the severity of the concussion, they need to be told somehow, don’t they?  There has to be some way to say “not as bad as many of them,” without people assuming they’re trivializing a concussion.  I don’t think we need to get too sensitive over the terminology. 

We know none of them are fun to have, but anything - ”low-grade” or any other term is going to sound the same way.  They all suck, but some will clearly take longer than others to recover from.

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Sorry for the serious tone today friends, but those are the current topics, it appears.  Until Sharks/Wings tonight that is!  Will we see a game seven?

Accidental Goals, Roenick’s “Gutless” Comments

 

New The Hockey News: explaining why players dive, and want refs can do to minimize the problem (The Hockey News)

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When red-hot Predators forward Joel Ward stole the puck on the penalty kill, then threaded Canucks’ forward-playing-defence Mikael Samuelsson with a pass to David Legwand, I raved about the terrific play, especially given that it ended up in a short-handed goal.

But when I saw the replay a couple times the other day, I noticed just how bad Legwand’s shot was (not that I could/would do any better of course, just hear me out) – the goal went in under Luongo’s arm, which made me think of something.

When a good player shoots on a terrible goalie, or on one that is just learning the position, sometimes the goalie will make a save because he’s in the wrong place, or didn’t know he should move, or whatever.  You deke left and go right, but the goalie wasn’t quick enough to even get out of the way yet, which actually happens sometimes in rec hockey.

Here's a picture of the thing I wrote about NOT happening.

Well, that must’ve been how Roberto Luongo felt on that shot.  He was all prepared for a well-placed shot, and bam, a mis-fire (I HAVE to assume mis-fire – can’t imagine anyone on a clean breakaway choosing six hole as option 1A) goes in off his body.

Goalies, does this happen often?  I know the odd change-up goes in, but are you ever like “alright, this guy should obviously go top shelf here,” so you take it away, and the shooter whiffs one under your glove?  Fuck that must be frustrating.

Yes, go celebrate like crazy, you scored BECAUSE YOU’RE BAD.

(Note: he may have scored a goal slightly luckier than that one later.  Note number two: I’m not calling Legwand bad, as he isn’t.)

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Our boy over at Puck Daddy Greg Wyshynski had a nice take on the Jeremy Roenick situation, basically claiming that JR didn’t go far enough in his comments about Patrick Marleau (he called him gutless, which is crazy over-the-top).

Roenick played with Marleau, and could’ve offered so much more insight into the guy and what the real problems are with the way he’s playing instead of going for the shock jock approach of near-slander.

"Makin' it look mean."

My take: I’m all for people saying inflammatory things on TV.  Analysts are often too safe and boring, so when they’re not, we shouldn’t call for their heads, we should debate their words.  I don’t want to see JR do that less, I want him to do it  more – at the same time, I reserve the right to call him an idiot when I think he’s being one.

And in this case, you really shouldn’t call any other player “gutless” on TV.  I mean, that’s as offensive a term to a hockey player as nearly anything.  He had five points in the first round, including assists on two overtime game winners and another game-winning goal, so the guy wasn’t exactly shrinking then.  He’s not playing well right now, granted.  That’s beside the point though – we don’t know if he’s hurt or what, so to go right to calling it a character issue is a touch biting for a guy who’s scored a few big goals in the past.  Just because a guy is suddenly struggling to produce doesn’t mean he suddenly became a coward.

And yes – as Wysh put it, if you’re going for it, at least give us a little more evidence to back it up.

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Enjoy this pic I’ve stolen from Puck Daddy.  Hilarious!  More playoff hockey tonight!

Maybe he just really hates prey?

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