Friday, April 29, 2011

picks like brunch

Now that a lovely first round has concluded, it's time for a little stock-taking.

Rangers (8) / Capitals (1)--Caps in 5
Sabres (7) / Flyers (2)--Flyers in 4
Habs (6) / Bruins (3)--Bruins in 4
Lightning (5) / Penguins (4)--Lightning in 4

Blackhawks (8) / Canucks (1)--Canucks in 6
Kings (7) / Sharks (2)--Sharks in 6
Coyotes (6) / Red Wings (3)--Coyotes in 7
Predators (5) / Ducks (4)--Ducks in 7

Pierre Idiot Trudeau:
East: Philly (1) vs. Buffalo (8)--4-1 Flyers
Washington (2) vs. NYRangers (7)--4-3 Rangers
Boston (3) vs. Montreal (6)--4-2 Bruins
Pittsburgh (4) vs. Tampa Bay (5)--4-2 Penguins
Blackhawks (8) / Canucks (1)--Canucks in 2
Kings (7) / Sharks (2)--Sharks in 5
Coyotes (6) / Red Wings (3)--Yotes in 6
Predators (5) / Ducks (4)--Ducks 6


Rangers (8) / Capitals (1)--Caps in 6
Sabres (7) / Flyers (2)--Flyers in 5
Habs (6) / Bruins (3)--Bruins in 4
Lightning (5) / Penguins (4)--Lightning in 7
Blackhawks (8) / Canucks (1)--Canucks in 6
Kings (7) / Sharks (2)--Sharks in 5
Coyotes (6) / Red Wings (3)--Wings in 5
Predators (5) / Ducks (4)--Preds in 7

So Pylon has nailed us, picking every series correctly. What did he know that Trudeau & I didn't? What have I learned?

  1. It doesn't matter when you think the Red Wings are old and injured--it especially doesn't matter when the team you're picking to beat them is the Coyotes, with a system geared toward going to OT and salvaging a point.
  2. Preds/Ducks, I was picking "one great forward line" versus "no-name team"; what I should have been picking was "Vezina-nominated goalie" versus "a groin pull away from starting Dan Ellis in the playoffs". Now, Rinne was not the difference-maker in that series, but hell, neither was that putatively great forward line.

Going into the second round (already!) the smart money's got to be all over the Caps, rested and untested from their first round, against the skin-of-their teeth Lightning. I've got a bottle riding on this series: I believed the Roloson/Brewer acquisitions made a huge difference for the Lightning and was crowing about it; silent partner Bogdan von Pylon--as usual--wasn't buying my bullshit.

His counterclaim was, if I can reconstruct it in its entirety:

You're a fucking idiot.

So, naturally, I doubled down and said "this locks up a second-round appearance". He (naturally) upped the ante and speculated on my Oedipal tendencies and came up with some baroque non-sequitur about him winning if the Lightning lost in the first round and me winning if they made the conference finals. I took the bet.

Unfortunately, while I think Yzerman made two spectacular pickups in Roloson (game 7 shutout!) and Brewer (led his team in ice time!), they drew what I think are far the two toughest matchups for them in the East. I think this is a hard-fought five-or-six-game series. I don't think von Pylon's buying me a bottle. Caps.

Hewing to the East, I'd love to be able to pick the Bruins here. They've got a likeable roster and all. But the Flyers were dominant the first 3/4 of the season, and it says here they're back on track after a fairly rigorous test against the ever-doomedplucky Sabres. Flyers creepy depth overcomes the full-hearts-clear-eyes Bruins. (Seriously: the Flyers have creepy depth. Name another squad that rolls three deep in goal. You can't!)

Wings/Sharks. Fuck.

I've watched a lot of Sharks this year. Everything I know about hockey tells me that their second line is fantastic--so good that they actually make the choke-prone first line essentially irrelevant when it comes to predictions about the team choking. The Sharks have had an entire shitty season to fold, and they haven't done it yet: They got through a brutal stretch of regular-season underachieving that had them barely a playoff squad at the All-Star break; they came up with a world-class comeback against a very game Kings squad. It looks like they've finally ascended to real contender status.

But there are two things I can't shake. First, I don't trust their defensive depth. They just might have the best forward corps in the league--talented, well-constructed, perfectly fitted to their respective roles--and their goaltending is cup-worthy, given that their goalie won a cup last year. (And in this degraded world where second-rate scrubs like Fleury and Osgood can hoist a few, pretty much any goalie better than Mikka Kiprusoff is guaranteed to get a ring on that finger like Beyonce eventually.)

That defense, though, doesn't have a real number-one, and it gets thin as hell and does so in a big hurry. I have to think that Detroit can expose that.'s Detroit. I'm scared of picking against them--like I always do--and looking like an idiot--like I always do. So Detroit. But not because San Jose "chokes" or anything stupid like that. Just because Detroit is a great hockey team, like they always are.


Fuck it: Predators in four. Canucks shot their wad getting past Chicago, and the coach has lost the room. Or, if he hasn't, it's because it's a room full of gutless worms. (This will go up in the morning. As I write this, it's 0-0 in the second; Canucks have 23 shots; Predators have 6. Ahem.)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Round Two Predictions

Well, my first round predictions were shown to be lacking. Who cares?! NOBODY! On to round two!


(1) Washington vs. (5) Tampa Bay
So I was wrong about both of these teams. I honestly thought the Capitals had the mental and emotional fortitude of a hungry 3 year old and would collapse against the Rangers like, well, Russia against everyone in the Olympics. Wrong-O, boyo. And the Lightning? Roloson is old! Stamkos can't score anymore! Martin St. Louis is short enough to be a Hab! (Thank you. Thank you. I know- original AND timely.) OOOPS! So now what? Well, top to bottom, I think Washington is a better team. But Tampa looks better to me all the time. Washington in 6.

(2) Philadelphia vs. (3) Boston
Philly will not get away with juggling 3 goalies this time. If they don't settle on one I pick a short series. And I doubt they will. Boston will, I think, exorcise their demon here. Boston in 5

(1) Vancouver vs. (5) Nashville
Well. The Canucks didn't, in the words of Bogdan Von Pylon "bend time and space" to meet my prediction of beating the 'Hawks in 2 games. But they did win, and I think it was an important victory - one which puts a lot of crap behind them. Big props to the Predators on beating "the best line in hockey" (Roenick) and securing their first series victory. Erat and Fisher, Weber and Suter. Rinne. Those are my big fears. That Weber shot makes me think of Doughty last year, and how the Canucks couldn't kill one damn penalty to save their lives. Well, Nashville is better than last year's L.A. squad and won't go down without a serious fight. Luckily, this year we have Hamhuis. Oh, and Bieksa remembered how to play hockey. And Kesler is, well, Kesler. Rinne is a slight advantage in goal, defense is a push and Canucks have a pretty big edge in forwards. Vancouver in 6

(2) San Jose vs. (3) Detroit
This one is going a minimum of six. Pretty sure Howard and Niemi are the same risk/reward. I will give the defensive edge to Detroit. So, forwards. Well, Detroit is crazy good. We all know this. But if Thornton came to play. Jeez. That is a big but, so Red Wings in 6

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

kicking the opiate of the masses

I guess I'm looking for a set of reasons to give a shit. We live in a country that's rapidly descending to the level of a second-tier Onion headline. If I'd read "Sitting President Forced to Show Proof of Citizenship Two Years into Term", I would've rolled my eyes and turned the page. And yet here we are. Personally, I'm waiting for the aforementioned president's memoir to make sense of these troubled times. Somehow, this is a black man of sufficient will to attain the highest elected office in a racist country whose public affect continues to suggest his memoir will be titled "All You Haters Make Some Really Good Points, Actually, and My Management Team Is Working Hard to Incorporate Your Insights".

Until that page-turner and barn-burner comes out, I'm left to my own resources to muddle through. And yet, I find myself burning countless mental calories on grown-ass men playing a rich rural man's game.

Cody McLeod—D
Daniel Winnick—B
David Jones—B
John-Michael Liles—B+
Brandon Yip—D
Petr Budaj—D
Ryan O'Reilly—C+
Matt Duchene—A-
Paul Stastny—C-
(Don't expect a grade for Brian Elliott, I'd guess: since the end of the season, Dater has spent more words on Soundgarden & Humble Pie than on Elliott's prospects of returning...)

My malaise is a combination of watching teams in the playoffs and judging "my" team against them and a thicker-than-usual onslaught of the media inexplicably kowtowing to asinine horseshit from these beefy dunces.

But when ESPN, as literally everybody has noted, fails to do even the mildest, well, journalism, I'm left with little. From Scocca's fairly muted excoriation:

negative reaction cascaded, too, with some bloggers saying that evidence Obama was born in Hawaii is overwhelming
Yes: some bloggers say that the evidence that Obama was born in Hawaii is overwhelming. Other people have other views. People disagree! It sure is confusing.

Scocca's piece is, as always, worth reading entirely. He makes a pretty tepid case for continuing to give time energy attention to this breadless circus:

I have rooted for arrogant and surly players, mean drunks, bullies, phony Bible-thumpers, steroids abusers—that's who shows up, sometimes, in your team's uniform, trying to win games. Sometimes there are decent, funny, humble ones, too. But you don't get to choose. Even if you think you're cheering for a good guy, you might be wrong.

What we're left with, as always, is a familiar uniform girding the loins of men we're believing are trying to win games. (Sometimes we're believing this by dint of main force.)

But what do we do when the men who crouch behind those men, running El Show, are dolts?

We "get" it.

The theory — one the Kroenke Sports Enterprises ownership has both endorsed and subsequently, ahem, encouraged because the savings are so significant — is that the Avalanche's hugging of the NHL's salary-cap floor is a byproduct of rebuilding. The theory is that when the young talent blossoms and is due new contracts, the payroll figure will rise. The theory is that the Avalanche then would move up from the lower echelon of the league's total payroll figures, the wins would mount, the arena again would sell out (and at full price), and everyone would live happily ever after.

Yet here's the most alarming sign of the offseason so far: The Colorado front office and ownership have given no indication that they realize this very important point: At least on the competitive level, the theory as enacted in Plan A isn't working.


As the rock-bottom payroll figures continue to be so appealing, all signs are that the organization is continuing to be carried away with: a) overrating its ability to spot and nurture young talent, and then, b) overrating that young talent itself,

I don't know what to do then. If all this shit is just "media", if the games are just skeletons for narratives, then I'd rather read books.

If there's something else there, something about politics, maybe, or life, or meaning, then I'd like some help in digging it out from more than Scocca, David Roth, and whoever. —I don't want to diminish their contribution: I just want ESPN and the rest to pull their fucking weight and stop shilling for thieves and liars. Here's non-journalist and run-bike-riders-down activist Toni Tone Tony Kornheiser shedding light onto what he will and will not attack cover:

There are two companies that provide me with the economic opportunity that I've had in recent years, which has been very beneficial to me. And in the words of my colleague Bomani Jones, I'm not gonna mess around with where the money comes from, OK?

One of the places the money comes from is Red Zebra, which is owned by Dan Snyder, this radio station, ok? And the other is ESPN. And I've been told in no uncertain terms by a variety of people, do not say stuff about the places where you work, so you need to understand that, that I am reluctant to be enormously expansive on certain things that jeopardize my well being.

Okay. So it's clearly just media for some of these people. So why don't I just go back to the movies, where at least the narratives are "curated" by professionals?

I'll leave you with some absolutely keyboard-on-fire material I discovered today. When I'm not 4k in the hole, I'll be picking up both of these books. Whether or not I'll be following sports by that time I cannot say.

—Collision, thinking about packing it up, packing it in, and moving on

Taken together, SportsWorld (1975) and An Accidental Sportswriter are a sustained attack on the mythos encrusted on sports and the journalists who helped to maintain it.

SportsWorld, Lipsyte wrote, is a "dangerous and grotesque web of ethics and attitudes, an amorphous infrastructure that acts to contain our energies, divert our passions, and socialize us for work or war or depression." Moreover, it's a "pacifier, safety valve...a concentration camp for adolescents and an emotional Disneyland for their parents...a buffer, a DMZ, between people and the economic and political systems that direct their lives."

The sound you hear is Ken Burns' head exploding. And Lipsyte was just getting started. Baseball: "an incredibly complex contrivance that seems to have been created by a chauvinistic mathematician." College football: "America's grandest monument to national hypocrisy." Vince Lombardi was "football's frontman while it was promoting itself as a sadomasochistic weekly adventure show," and hallowed Halls of Fame were "eerie crypts." About the Mets: "It would take at least a grand jury to get at the origins of the New York Mets"—truer than ever in the Madoff Era.

The sportswriters—the older guys, especially—were co-conspirators, pumping up athletes even though they knew the truth. Their attitude, Lipsyte says, was, "We're all of the carnival, and the rubes"—aka, the readers—"are out there."

Lipsyte dug in the box and took his swings. On Grantland "Granny" Rice, the first celebrity sportswriter: "The writer who likens a ballplayer to Hercules or Grendel's mother is displaying the ultimate contempt—the ballplayer no longer exists as a person or a performer, but as an object, a piece of matter to be used, in this case, for the furtherance of the sportswriter's career... Rice populated the press boxes with lesser talents who insisted, like the old master, that they were just sunny fellows who loved kids' games and the jolly apes who played them."

More: "A sportswriter learns early that his readers are primarily interested in the affirmation of their faiths and prejudices, which are invariably based on previous erroneous reports."

Still more: "We were complicit in keeping women out of press boxes, much less locker rooms. ... Women diminished the prestige of our tree house, the men-only access we gloated over to friends and neighbors."

Red Smith wrote the "the purest, most crystalline, most delightful fresh running prose in sports," but until late in his career Smith was "polishing the SportsWorld silver." Bob Costas, he of the perpetually unlined forehead, is "one of the Jock Culture's most treasured cheerleaders. ... Just look how happy he seems bantering with those ex-athletes on pregame shows, a terrier playing with mastiffs and Great Danes."

"The infectious values and myths transmitted by bad sportswriters," Lipsyte wrote in SportsWorld, now rising to a crescendo, "may be the deadliest words in the paper."

Monday, April 25, 2011

dutchy-gush: a plea

Dear Matt Duchene
How are you I am fine. What are you doing this summer? I think I might go camping but I am not sure. Anyways I think you are very good at hockey I like watching you play it. You play for my team the Colorado Avalanche! I would not like watching you play it hockey if you played for another team which wasn't my team the Colorado Avalanche!

Please do not gush about other teams Matt Duchene.

Anyways I guess I got to go. All power to the people and ban the fucking bomb.

your friend, Chris Collision (age 36)

a brief note regarding the career prospects of Alain Vigneault

Fire Alain Vigneault now. And if there's a single player in the room who Vigneault hasn't lost yet? Waive him now, because that man is obviously some kind of insane mix of gutless and stupid.

Vigneault better hope those Jack Adams votes are already in the mail, because after this, he'll be lucky to run the PK for a midget team. There's not a team in the world that needs a coach who responds to adversity with this blend of panic and self-outsmarting.

(Thanks to Puck Daddy Radio for reading this one!)

Friday, April 22, 2011

surprises this postseason

Most surprising series has gotta be Bruins/Habs. Or maybe it's not surprising: maybe it's just enlightening. Just before the playoffs, I read a thing about the most common upset every year being a 6-seed beating a 3-seed. I thought the Coyotes were a better candidate for this than the Habs; this is because I am an idiot.

Looking at it now, the contrast between the Coyotes and the Habs couldn't be more interesting: in the West, you've got a team that slows everything down and tries to go to OT every game to salvage a point--in the East you've got an undersized team that seems somehow built to beat teams in the playoffs after somewhat underwhelming regular seasons. Just weird is all.

Or maybe there's always a 6-3 upset because the 3 seed is often a the best team of a weak division, piling up points against glorified major junior teams, but completely unprepared to play a good team 4 to 7 times in a row. (Checks Northeast division.) Naaaaah.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

all you know and all you need to know

Is this Bob McKenzie putting Chris Kunitz on blast? Or just an innocent typo? All I know is no-one is innocent.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy? Yes. Smug? Quite. Content? No.

At the beginning of this season, I made the claim that it won't be a Success unless the Canucks go to at least the Western Conference Finals. This was not a controversial claim: after two straight years of second round exits at the hands of a second tier team, it's clearly time for the Canucks to quit Thortoning up the joint and start winning in the playoffs. Sure, most Canucks fans feel that the time is now, but with a solid core of a team locked in for at least 3 more years, I will be content with steps in the right direction. It remains to be seen if the Canucks will take those steps, so, in the meantime, let's take a look at the high points and (lower case) successes of the season that was.

Luongo Takes It Easy

This could easily be called 'Canucks Get A Backup That's Worth A Shit' or 'Luongo's Self Importance Abates Slightly ' or 'Thank God Vigneault Got A Handle on His Fucking Goalie'. I've said it before: Luongo has had a Vezina caliber season, his best yet. Sure, you could argue for his 47 win 2006-07 outing, his first as a Canuck, or his (fucking incredible) 2003-04 slog, in which he was a (fucking stellar) .931/2.43 behind a truly terrible Panthers squad. But I've never seen him look so comfortable. One reason for this is that he's not scrambling for rebounds as much because of playing deeper in his crease(thank you Roland "Rollie the Goalie" Melanson.) But there is another reason: Cory Schneider. This kid has plugged right in whenever needed and mimicked Loo's stats. Those 10 extra games off have made all the difference.

Hank, meet Dank.

Well, it looks like mom told Henrik to have his turn. The Sedins continue to amaze me. They've gone from this creepy joke with potential, to an underrated creepy joke, to an elite creepy joke, to a "we don't give a fuck if you make fun of us cuz we're gonna shove goals down your face, no matter who we play against or who our linemates are" creepy joke. Daniel's campaign this year has been impressive and clutch, capturing the Ross one year after his brother. Too bad Corey Perry (writer of chitterlings-circuit successes "Diary of a Pussy Anaheim Duck" and "I Can Do Math All By My Self") has bribed every goalie in the league into spreading their five-holes to welcome his rubber love; Dank might've grabbed the Hart too, twinning his brother's achievement from last season. While that is unlikely, he's a finalist for sure, and that ain't not unbad.

While he's not being a complete jackass in the locker room Ryan Kesler has been a 41 goal, one man wrecking crew. Sure, his goals came at the expense of assists, like directly, but if the dude can finish like that, I, for one, am fine with it. I would wager, with no proof at all, that the assists taken away were just second assists anyway. The added goal production didn't, though, come at the expense of his defensive game, I would even say he got better, but then, I am a raging homer. His success seems to be, at least in part, due shutting his yap. Sadly, we get less of gems like this. I guess this is why he takes it out in the locker room. I mean literally. I'm talking about his Johnson. That's a penis.

Depth With a Capital D

The Canucks lost well over 300 man games to injury this year. They used 13 different defensemen, which is a lot. At one point, Christian Ehrhoff, was the only top six defender not injured, and he's not exactly what you would call a shutdown guy. But they kept it together. We went 6-6-0 in that stretch. Pretty good, considering. But the D wasn't the only source of depth on the team, our third and fourth lines stepped up big. Manny Malhotra was inhuman in the faceoff circle. He will be missed. Tanner Glass and Raffi Torres became two of my 3rd line favorites, due to their hard work and their ability to annoy the shit out of everyone. Lots of callups, too many to list here, had first NHL points. Late season additions Chris Higgins (thanks, Calgary!) and Max LaPierre seem to be fitting in nicely.

Wins, Wins, More Wins, And "I Kind Of Feel Embarrassed At All Of Our Wins"

Canucks fans got real spoiled this year, what with our team winning 54/82, about 2/3 of their games, not to mention collecting points in another nine. We had the best home record AND the best road record, with a couple of 5 game road sweeps in there. That isn't hard to root for. There is seriously nothing to bitch about there.

Hail to the Queef!

It's fun to make a joke of the President's Trophy. Especially when it's being won by the San Jose Sharks. But anyone who says it's meaningless is off base. Ask a leaf fan if they would have rather won President's Trophy or have a middling draft pick in an off year, if they pick the latter, they're either lying or stupid. (Which, honestly, is pretty likely. Torontonians are notoriously dishonest, and their children are dull-normal at best). Sure, it ain't what I came to dance for, but it ain't a shame to get it either. The regular season matters. The President's Trophy is an achievement, one which does not preclude a team from winning the Cup (unless we're talking about the Sharks). I'm proud of it, it's the marker of a cracking good season. Let's just hope it's paired with some post-season success.


I forgot a little music.

This is how the Canucks treat their opposition:

This is a song I can't figure the meaning of for the life of me, but I love it.

too dumb to play with themselves volume uh 7 I think

Fucking ESPN.

Game 3 in Denver, first round, and the eighth-seeded Avalanche get a gift in overtime. Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle then scores in his own net to give Colorado a stunning 2-1 series lead. Didn't you say to yourself after that bizarre ending, "Here we go again with the Sharks?" Didn't you feel at that very moment like San Jose was surely headed for more playoff heartache? I mean, scoring in your own net in overtime, surely this team was doomed yet again. Then something funny happened. The Sharks displayed resiliency, Boyle himself scored the opening goal 74 seconds into the next game and top-seed San Jose recovered to beat the Avs in the first round. Where you surprised the Sharks could pick themselves off the floor like that?

Not as surprised as I'd be if ESPN could get through an entire paragraph about hockey without an error of fact—Dan Boyle's pass deflected off of O'Reilly's stick, he didn't score on his own goal—and a typo. I would be very surprised where that to happen.

And since I didn't have time to do a more thorough job with my predictions—go read Down Goes Brown if you want to be entertained or informed—here are some bonus answers to ESPN's penis-headed questions.

Could the Blackhawks go from backing into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season to a repeat Cup performance?

Sure. Would I bet on it? Well, even sputtering homer Bob Macajew/Jew Grimson won't go more than "I'll bet they don't get swept". So the smart money is probably elsewhere.

Could the Predators not only win their first-ever playoff series but take home the Cup?

Uh, who are they playing? The Ducks. Second, do the Predators have any forwards yet? No? Okay, then: yes; no.

Could the Penguins railroad through the East without Crosby and Evgeni Malkin?


Could the Kings without Anze Kopitar stun the Sharks and win a few rounds?

A "few"? A fucking FEW? A fucking FEW ROUNDS?

Okay, I looked it up. If by "few" you mean "not many" or "a small number" , then yes. The Kings can win not many rounds or a small number of rounds without Anze Kopitar. I am guessing that number will be zero, which is rather a small number indeed.

Could the Sabres beat out Vancouver in a Cup final featuring the twin 1970 expansion cousins?

Yes, certainly. In a year other than this one. Teams usually have to be pretty good at playing hockey to make the finals (2006 aside), and the Sabres are not very good at playing hockey.

Could Carey Price channel Patrick Roy and 1986 for the underdog Habs?

Could an ESPN writer find an interesting, timely or relevant hook for a hockey story about a Canadian team?

Could rookie Brad Marchand become this spring's multiple playoff hero as the Bruins end a 39-year drought?

What? What in holy hell is a Brad bufuglien Marchand and why is he among the first six Bruins anyone would mention? I don't even like the Bruins and here's where—sorry, ESPN, were—I'd go first: Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Tukka Rask, Milan Lucic. That's off the top of my goddamned head.

--Collision, furiously looking for a fight

Monday, April 11, 2011

Collision's first round picks

Rangers (8) / Capitals (1)
—Caps in 5
Sabres (7) / Flyers (2)—Flyers in 4
Habs (6) / Bruins (3)—Bruins in 4
Lightning (5) / Penguins (4)—Lightning in 4

Blackhawks (8) / Canucks (1)
—Canucks in 6
Kings (7) / Sharks (2)—Sharks in 6
Coyotes (6) / Red Wings (3)—Coyotes in 7
Predators (5) / Ducks (4)—Ducks in 7

I quit.

Okay, I tried. I spent a couple hours doing final research and finding a narrative hook I kind of liked for my final final post-mortem on the Avs 2010-2011, but I can't do it.

I'm tired of this fucking team.

I'm tired of their complete lack of accountability. I'm tired of hearing them barf forth claims that "they tried hard" in loss after loss after loss in which they never led. I'm tired of people claiming that Duchene is progressing instead of coasting.

I'm tired of those ugly fucking blueberry jerseys. I'm tired of the franchise giving up with games to play and sitting out every half-passable professional-level player and trotting out yet still another set of inadequate minor leaguers to play against teams attempting to win games and make the playoffs. I'm tired of the commentary around this team, where before guys get traded they're invisible or interchangeable and after they get traded they're studs with exceptional leadership qualities.

I'm tired of players openly rooting for their numbers in the last days of a season marked by five fewer wins than even I, who called this entire goddamned season, predicted. I'm tired of a smallish team that doesn't seem very fast anymore, I'm tired of players losing fights, I'm tired of a coach who has no idea how to get a team to play in the first period or what in the hell he's supposed to do when he doesn't have a goalie playing out of his mind. I'm tired of slumps. I'm tired of paying Paul Stastny unfathomable quantities of money to put up checking-line performances without doing any checking. I'm tired of pretending bad players are good.

I'm real tired of rooting for a team that's too tight-fisted and stubborn to retain a goalie coach who helped two goalies to career years. Most of all I'm tired of wasting my time thinking about these fucking losers who don't care that they are. They say you learn things in times of adversity. Here's what I've learned about the Colorado Avalanche: fuck you pussies. I quit.

Friday, April 8, 2011

around the plynth is better

One of Pierre Idiot Trudeau's favorite locutions is "paper tiger". In the decades I have known the man, he has called at least the following things "paper tigers":

  • the Detroit Red Wings (1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2007, 2008)
  • Tim Thomas
  • the American Democratic Party
  • the Los Angeles Lakers (2001, 2002)
  • the American Republican party
  • a bouncer who had me in a fairly secure headlock
  • the Taliban
  • Iran
  • English soccer
  • Cormac McCarthy
  • Julia Child
  • Microsoft
  • Apple
  • the strong and weak nuclear forces
  • the American Constitution
  • the cities of Boston, San Jose, Los Angeles and Paris
  • the Oxford comma
  • Strunk & White
  • the Borg
  • wheat
  • Ernst Gräfenberg
  • Rupert Murdoch
  • Jane Jacobs
  • Groupons
  • one of those paper dragons you see at Chinese New Year--he was pretty drunk
  • the police state as a repressive apparatus
  • Martin Scorcese
  • the Oxford English Dictionary
  • the Death Star

Another thing he has enjoyed saying over the years is that the Northwest Division is superb and that a team that wins it is battle-tested and ready for the playoffs in a way that winners of weaker divisions aren't. This year...that seems unlikley to be the case. As of today, the Canucks have gone 17-4-2 against the Northwest--with two of those losses coming after they secured the President's trophy!

They've piled up 36 points in those 23 games, meaning that if you exclude the Northwest, the Canucks have not gone a superhuman 53-19-9 (1.42 points per game), but "only" a very, very good 36-15-7 (1.36 PPG).

Are the Canucks a paper tiger? Almost certainly not. But in the playoffs they're not going to be playing any talent-challenged Minnesota teams, any top-heavy, aging Calgary squads, any three-years-away-from-being-competitive Edmonton rosters, nor even any way-closer-to-Edmonton-than-you-think Colorado Avalanche collections of minor leaguers.

Again, I'm not suggesting the Canucks are anything but excellent. But it does seem reasonable to suggest that the Canucks' 1.36 points-per-game against the rest of the league is a better predictor than their 1.56 against the Northwest. (Which was really 1.71 before those two meaningless games in Edmonton.) The former would put them at around 110 points, a notch better than Washington, and two notches better than anybody else; the latter would put them at 128 points over an entire season, or HOLY FUCKING SHIT territory.

--Collision, grasping at straws

Thursday, April 7, 2011

LINE BRAWL: MVP changes and a season in the ditch


Hey, Trudeau, any interest in talking about the Canucks' Presidents' Trophy? I mean, first for the franchise, wire-to-wire domination of the league... And Grimson, how about how it feels to go from champs hoisting hardware to scrambling for the playoffs?


Life imitates art which imitates sport. The most divine of aspirations, the most wholly entombing failures. All that exists occupies space only in order to atrophy; why should sporting dreams be any different? "Say what you will about the tenets of..." Fuck that, Walter. Nihilism is an ethos, just a crappy one...


That it?


Sure, why not? I could go on forever. I'll just stop there. I'll leave my heart in the grave, the worms will have to wait a long damn time, damnit, for the rest o' me.

I'll stop there. To answer Sir Edward of Maidenhead (there's a ghastly image), "No thank you, I do not today care to play with madness."

Also, fuck Corey Perry. A lot.


Jesus. Can I change my MVP to Corey Perry? Fuck. Hat trick tonight.


You seen his head? The guy needs them hats!


He kinda looks like Cancer Boy.

(Presumptive MVP Corey Perry.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

intriguing theory: on choosing a minus player for the Norris

Apparently I suck at reading. When I looked up what the NHL's Norris trophy is, I found this: it goes to the

defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position

(Pierre Idiot Trudeau hasn't got time to listen to your bullshit.)

Now, I'd assume that demonstrating great all-round ability to play defense would mean that when you were playing, your team would not let the other team score much. But here comes Pierre LeBrun with an impassioned defense of an alternative position on the matter.

LeBrun: For a while, it appeared Lidstrom was going to run away with his seventh Norris Trophy in a cake walk, but hard-charging Visnovsky of the Ducks has made it quite a race with his league-leading 66 points among defensemen. We also point to his plus-15 rating. And that's where Lidstrom's detractors are pointing to, the Wings captain's minus-1 rating as of Wednesday morning. But I attribute that more to the team's defensive struggles this season and not the legend's own play.

Chara also deserves strong consideration, while Kris Letang, Yandle and Weber also have merit. In the end, I find myself vacillating between Lidstrom and Visnovsky. In the end, even at age 40, "The Perfect Human" still rocks.

Winner: Lidstrom.

So here we see that the plus/minus rating is apparently now not an individual statistic, but one "attribut[able] to [a] team". And that being great at playing defense doesn't mean your team doesn't get outscored when you're...playing defense.

(Bogdan von Pylon isn't just the president of Hair for Fops: he also dresses like a bike messenger.)

I am not shocked by this: as always, Down Goes Brown beat us to the punch:

Norris Trophy
Awarded annually to the defenceman adjudged to be Nicklas Lidstrom.

In other news, It's shopping time!

(Jew Grimson's hair makes me baffled and hostile.)

I believe you can tell a lot about a man just by looking into his face, the paint job of the soul. And I believe that none of these men should be paid a million dollars to do anything.

--Collision, playing for next year's contract...again

Monday, April 4, 2011

ESPN's Scott Burnside to Georges Laraque: shut your fucking mouth

Buried in the dull business-as-usualisms in Scott Burnside's latest listicle is a truly surprising hatchet job on former NHL enforcer turned semi-pro fameball Georges Laraque. Apparently when Laraque isn't joining the green party, saying hockey's not ready for out gays, going vegan, appearing on some gawdawful Canadian "reality" show--MORE LIKE UNREALITY SHOW, AMIRITE?--or "rolling" with mixed martial artists, he takes to the airwaves and shoots his mouth off about sports.

Here at Clear the Crease, of course, we welcome this novel development. Vaguely articulate former athletes almost never get the chance to give us their opinions about sports, and that's just a goddamned shame. Who among us hasn't craved access to the semi-charismatic secondary-education-level wit and wisdom of lamp-jawed achievement trumpeters in ill-fitting suits? And who among us would be so churlish as to decry the sound of this barrier falling?

ESPN's own Atlanta-based hockey correspondent and onion-fearer (srsly: look it up), that's who!

In what seems likely to be ESPN's nastiest broadside ever aimed at another (unnamed) media outlet, Burnside has this to say about the man who was "stapled to the bench" for 53 career playoff games ( by my count).

3. Enough already, Georges

Has there been a player in recent memory who accomplished so little on the ice but talked so much off it than Georges Laraque?

It created hardly a ripple when the Canadiens bought out Laraque's contract, which then-GM Bob Gainey foolishly bestowed given Laraque's negligible on-ice impact; but disappearing gracefully has hardly been Laraque's style.

The ubiquitous "expert" has weighed in on various topics in recent days and months, including the Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty and whether Montreal coach Jacques Martin has lost the Habs' room. We had to snicker when Laraque suggested that had he been on the ice, Pacioretty would not have been ridden into the stanchion at the Bell Centre. Were that true, hundreds of players who played alongside Laraque (well, that's a stretch since Laraque spent many nights stapled to the bench in many NHL cities) owe him a debt of gratitude for having saved them from similar injury. If they only knew how lucky they were.

Then, to suggest in recent days that Martin has lost touch with his players is just more waste material. The coach guided the underdog Habs to a shocking Eastern Conference finals appearance last season and has them pointed toward the playoffs again this spring despite injuries.

Not sure what's more shocking, that Laraque continues to offer up such misguided opinions or that he finds a forum for them.

The oddest part for me is that Burnside doesn't name the "forum". Does ESPN have a reason to put French Canadian TVA Media on blast without naming names? Curious. As for the rest, it's probably just bog-standard pundit-hatred from a guy who sees himself as a real trench reporter. Right?

--Collision, instigator penalty, got his ass kicked
Roenick sad face courtesy of the internet.

Friday, April 1, 2011

WHO ARE THESE GUYS? Chris Collision's award picks

This always goes to a pillow-soft guy with gaudy offensive numbers, but this year, St. Nick Lidstrom can't win his 7th in 8 years, because he's going to finish with a +/- of basically even. Also if there's any justice in this fallen, degraded world, there's going to be no small Red Wing fatigue when it comes to handing trophies out, given the aforementioned 6 of the last 7 + his teammate Pavel Datsuyk's 3-or-is-it-4 straight Selke trophies (see below). Literally: Red Wing fatigue would be life's first indication that there is such a thing as justice.

Duncan Keith, Chris Pronger and Zdeno Chara are by 1.6 kilometers the league's most potent defensemen, but each labored for a team that suffered dramatic slumps, and my token attempt at research came up with this (italics mine):

to the defence player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position

So that means it's Kris Letang. He plays in all situations and his team managed to soldier on after losing the best player in the game (by .6 miles): Sidney Crosby.

Henrik Lundqvist. His numbers were almost identical to Roberto Luongo's, except in two areas: first, he played six more games last I checked; second, he put up 11 shutouts to Luongo's three. And I don't think anybody would argue that the team in front of Lundqvist is better than the one in front of Luongo. "Markedly inferior" is in fact the phrase that comes to mind--particularly when it comes to the backup goalie position: Luongo has a rookie who played brilliantly behind him whenever needed; Lundqvist had a competent veteran backup who got injured, and has now started something like 18 consecutive games during the season's most difficult and crucial stretch.

I excluded Tim Thomas simply because he didn't play enough games. Fucking great goalie, though. Honorable mention to Craig Anderson on the Senators.

Another bullshit award, this one is supposed to go to the "forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game", but every year it in fact goes to the highest scorer who once played on a checking line. The only question for me about that matter is should I scream "FEH" or "FAUGH"?

Whereas the actual best defensive forward in the game is probably Manny Malhotra or some poor faceless bastard toiling in Buffalo, I'm inclined to give the nod to the a Rangers forward, since that team plays some mammoth defense, without the major defensive advantage the Canucks have: the ability to dominate possession in the opponent's end, where it's tough for them to score. But they're all pretty interchangeable, and the Rangers already got an award, so...I'm not making a pick here.

Honorable Avs mention goes to "Radar" O'Reilly, who, at 20 years of age, gets trotted out there against the best offensive players the game has to offer and doesn't often get abused.

Lemaire. Not even a debate is possible on this matter. Without his team's best forward, with an aging goalie and a faceless crew of defensemen, he took the exact same roster another coach had led to 11-24-5 and coaxed them into a streak of 26-13-3, including a face-melting 11-1-1 in February.

For the longest time, I was sure I was going to have to give this to Logan Couture, who scored like 10 million clutch goals for the Sharks blah blah blah then I realized this is my post and my vote and that that kid Jeff Skinner? On the Hurricanes? Is a fantastic player. So Jeff Skinner.

Lady Byng:
I loathe the bagging-on-it that this award gets. In my mind/heart/soul--and in my blog posts--this isn't a punchline:

the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct
combined with a high standard of playing ability

I want to give the nod to Paul Stastny, but part of being a sportsman/gentleman is showing up all the time, and the guy just disappeared for long, long portions of the season. So, in most earnest thing anything on this site will ever see, probably, I say Milan Hejduk who tied a franchise record with his 11th consecutive season of 20 goals, many of which seemed to come in 4-1 trouncings where the Duke was the only Av to show up.

Honorable Avs mention goes to Cody McLeod, because another part of being a sportsman/gentleman is sticking up for your teammates and trying like a bastard to fire them up and get a win.

For "perserverence, sportsmanship and dedication". You know what? I'm giving this one to myself for sticking with a team that can't win a fucking game slash an organization that won't spend a buck.

I thought about giving it to a fan who actually displays sportsmanship--i.e., doesn't pile on every time something goes pear-shaped--but I'm tired of being nice. Fuck it. Chris Collision gets the Masterson.

Then there's a raft of service-to-the-game awards. Lester Patrick:

outstanding service to hockey in the US
King Clancy:
best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice ... and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution to the community
great leadership on and off the ice during the regular season
This is genius--"during the regular season". I love it.

NHL Foundation:

core values of hockey to enrich the lives of people in a community

Nothing to say about any of those, except what the hell is with all these leadership-&-service suckups?

I had a fucking brutal time with this one.

the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team

Finally, I just started going team-by-team and asking myself "who's the one guy who, if you take him off the squad, completely changes the complexion of their game?". Most teams, though, lost guys for extended periods and carried on well, without folding or appearing to be completely demoralized.

So the winner of the 2010-2011 MVP? The 2009-2010 Craig Anderson, who, in his absence, proved that the loss of one player's best year can well and truly annihilate an entire season of his team's chances of looking like competent, competitive professionals.