Everything Else

You know it’s coming. With only two of the seven Canadian teams making the playoffs (two too many, clearly), there will be a movement to adopt either one as the representation of the entire nation to claim what they feel is still rightfully theirs. Never mind no Canadian team has made the Final since the Canucks in 2011 and hockey fans everywhere haven’t gone into collective cardiac arrest over it. We’ve all seen how the coverage works in the spring.

Sure, the Leafs will take most of that, because Leafs fans and media are already under the impression that they are Canada’s team, even though pretty much everyone despises them. But make no mistake, there will be some counter-revolution up there to make the Jets the country’s fave, because the Jets are far less likely to get stomped in the first round by Boston, because they’re not as popular, because Winnipeg has been shit on enough (it hasn’t).

And hey, the Jets don’t have the “HEY EVERYONE LOOK AT HOW HARD I’M CUTTING MYSELF” tendencies that Leafs Nation does. But don’t fret, just because they’re not nearly as large as Toronto’s fanbase doesn’t mean they don’t have the same annoying, know-it-all-yet-still-so-tortured complex.

You should hope no Canadian team ever wins a Cup until the league has to fold due to paying out billions in the concussion lawsuit (so like three years). Their oafish and blind media, their thug-ish fans, and their completely borked and creepy development system are not things that should be celebrated. And the US’s attempts to copy them isn’t helping either.

They are no more deserving or appreciative of a Cup win than fans in Nashville, or Tampa, or Pittsburgh are. Just because you’ve never froze your ass off to drink a flat Molson while watching teenagers in some barn in a place that sounds like an infection in your colon (Kelowna, Medicine Hat, Regina) doesn’t mean you’re not a true hockey fan. These are people who actively encourage their children to fight each other to live out whatever fantasies and combat whatever false emasculation is in their frozen, Timbo’s-filled heads.

The only Canadian team you should ever root for is the Expos when they bring them back.

 

Game #78 Preview

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

Somewhere in the second period of last night’s horrifically dramatic and exciting, if not brilliantly played, Gold Medal game between the US and Canada, I had a pretty sobering thought: This is most likely the last hockey game I’ll have any emotional investment in until October.

Oh sure, there’s the minimal emotional investment of rooting against someone when the playoffs come around. Hockey fandom is nothing if not filled with vitriol and schadenfreude. Be it the Blues, Ken Hitchcock, the city of Boston in general, I’ll find sides to take. But as every song of the 60s told us, hate is not as rewarding as love. Seeing your enemies fall doesn’t bring the thrill of seeing your side triumph.

The past couple years, more and more people ask me why I or we as a team still do this. Last night would be the only answer I need. No other sport matches the swings of emotion, even if you’re just minimally invested. By the time Lamoureux sent Szabados into Row H with that move, the entire bar I was at was engrossed, where I was the only one watching when the game started. I didn’t want to go back to smoking so much as eat a couple cigarettes during the third and overtime. Every US mistake leading to a Canadian chance elicited this sucking sound as I quickly inhaled through clenched teeth, making an almost reverse-hissing noise.

Sometimes I’ve derided the women’s Olympic tournament as one-game long, and I believe it will be better for everyone when and if the rest of the world catches up. But it being the only game does add to the drama, doesn’t it? These two teams essentially practice for four years until this one, and it’s uniqueness heightens the occasion and tension Because the loser knows it’s going to be four years until they play anything resembling this again. Throw in the US choking away the last one and the added pressure of the wait for this one and the threat of doubling the wait and angst until the next chance.

You don’t realize until you’re older how the storylines accentuate what you feel what you’re watching. It’s more than just the contest. It’s everything going into it. And it’s the feeling your heart bounce off your heels and then nearly spring out the top of your head all in a matter of seconds. That’s why we’re still here, because you can’t get that anywhere else.

Oh sure, the Cubs are almost certainly going to take me on another October ride, but while I adore playoff baseball, the pacing of those games just make it exquisite torture. The time in between pitches gives me just enough time to imagine Bryce Harper hitting a ball far enough that it has to count for 10 runs every single time. And the series are over too quickly. That Cubs-Nationals car-crash lasted exactly a week.

Us soccer fans get some of this, but there’s too many days between games. And thanks to Bruce Arena and the other morons running US Soccer, Slak and I won’t even get that this summer. I’ve already seen England go out in the Round of 16 enough to not even stir any emotion about that either.

It’s been 10 years since we’ve gone a spring without it at all, though last spring probably counts in the “can’t feel anything” category. When the Hawks were regularly missing the playoffs, that’s what I was most jealous of. Knowing that there wouldn’t be any tension when you woke up, that haze you basically go through the days in, because what did anything matter before faceoff.

At least we had it for one night in February. And at least longing and disappointment, when they arrive, are feeling something.

Everything Else

It’s finally over. A tournament that will basically be remembered for ruthless efficiency more than any classic hockey has come to a close. And it ended with Canada on top, which it always should have. Sure, it would have been more fun if Sweden could have played them with more than a center and a half, but that’s the way things go. It probably still wouldn’t have mattered.

Everything Else

Quick reactions to the semifinals today. We’ll start with the bigger game to us, and that’s the battle of the 49th. Those of us here in the land of guns and poor public education love to big up our chances and talk a big game, but every hockey fan knows in their heart that Canada will always ice a better roster than the US, and better than everyone. You know in that one game things can go right, a bounce or a call here or there or one spectacular goalie performance (which the US got and that’s the only reason this didn’t end up 4-0 at least) or one pants-shitting can swing the result. But if both teams play their game, you know where it’s going. And that’s where it went.

Shall we get to the bullets? We shall:

Everything Else

Quick reactions to the semifinals today. We’ll start with the bigger game to us, and that’s the battle of the 49th. Those of us here in the land of guns and poor public education love to big up our chances and talk a big game, but every hockey fan knows in their heart that Canada will always ice a better roster than the US, and better than everyone. You know in that one game things can go right, a bounce or a call here or there or one spectacular goalie performance (which the US got and that’s the only reason this didn’t end up 4-0 at least) or one pants-shitting can swing the result. But if both teams play their game, you know where it’s going. And that’s where it went.

Shall we get to the bullets? We shall:

Everything Else

If this is to be the last Olympics with the NHL involved, I suppose there’s decent symmetry in having the last two Gold Medal games be the semifinal match ups. It should make for a pretty good morning for hockey fans, assuming you can get up early enough or get off work or watch at work and get fired or whatever you’re going to have to do to watch. But hey, isn’t this what we all came for? Let’s give it the proper treatment.

swedish chef vs. 45166

Sweden v. Finland

TIME: 6am Central (NBCSN)

The Scandinavian rivals kick off the day, with Finland looking to turn around the result from Torino and I suppose the Swedes still a bit sore from coughing up the World Juniors at home to Finland thanks to Teuvo and Rasmus. This is has always kind of been a one-sided rivalry, with Finland playing the little brother to the more exalted Swedes.

Everything Else

While we’re poised for a semifinal day that really will be a feast of hockey, the other side of the debate is also clear after John Tavares’s injury. It would be an even bigger howl if the Islanders were in playoff contention, so I guess the NHL dodged a quarter of a bullet there. The risks are there for all to see, but seeing the videos of full bars during T.J. Oshie’s Michael Jackson performance against Russia provide all the benefits to be seen as well.

I can’t say I’ve made up my mind. I really like the international game. What I haven’t heard is what will happen if the NHL doesn’t send its players to South Korea in four years. Will it be just an under-23 tournament with college juniors and seniors and AHL-ers available? I think most GMs would be ok with sending their top prospects to such a crucible. Most of them let those players go to the World Juniors instead of play in the AHL for a couple weeks. I guess that would be ok, but really as nothing more than a scouting combine that the Juniors is now. Would NHL players under 23 be allowed to be picked? I’m guessing no. Would it just be the World Juniors replayed six weeks later? Would the European leagues still send their players, like the KHL or Swedish Elite League? Would that be fair?

Everything Else

Everything pretty much went to script, and now the Olympics gets the treat of having what are probably the two leading international rivalries in its semifinal. Should make for quite the morning on Friday. Let’s run through the action.

Sweden 5 – Slovenia 0: Took the Swedes longer than I thought and Slovenia actually had a couple chances here or there. Sweden will take heart that they finally got Daniel Sedin off the schneid, but I don’t know if that’s a long term pattern. He hasn’t been all that noticeable the rest of the time. This Swedish defense is playing too well at the moment, and that’s with Alex Edler and his elbows back. By the way, did you notice in their Kronwall hit montage that he left his feet in like 80% of them? Of course you did. But with him on the third pairing and Hjalmarsson and Oduya looking at their best, it really has become an impenetrable force. I do love how they include Johan Franzen on the “Key Injury” list for Sweden, even though Mule hasn’t been useful in at least three years.

Everything Else

Day off from the tournament today, so it seems like a good time to apply our semi-regular status update.

The Dizzying Highs

Phil Kessel – I haven’t watched every Olympic game, so I could be ignoring some others, but what I have seen there doesn’t seem to be a more dynamic offensive player than Kessel at this tournament. I’m one of those who turned around on Kessel. I used to laugh at him like everyone else and thought he was basically playing the game as a billionaire would if he were able to buy himself into a game, completely on his own planet. But last year and especially this one, Kessel has been mindlessly entertaining to watch. Lambert’s right, how is he getting no Hart discussion whatsoever? We’re so busy trying to point out the statistical morass that the Leafs are that I think Kessel gets washed away in the current. He shouldn’t.