Hockey

Ryan Reaves: It was ever thus. In the latest instance of why garbage cans like this have to be tossed out of the league but never will, we present Reaves’s bullshit with Adam Lowry. Last week, Lowry hit Alex Tuch. Was it totally clean? Perhaps not. It certainly wasn’t completely malicious either. But of course, whether it was clean or not doesn’t really matter, does it? Because players and teams lose their mud over clean hits all the time. Which is another thing the league needs to do away with.

So on Lowry’s next shift, and this is something that actually happens in this league that any other sport would suspend a coach a quarter of a season for, Gerard Gallant sent Ryan Reaves to take the draw against Lowry. You can imagine where it goes from here, and no, he doesn’t fix the cable.

This is clearly, patently ridiculous, and the only reason a player like Reaves–who can’t do anything else–is even in the league. The fight didn’t make Tuch less hurt. It didn’t take the hit away. Nor will it deter Lowry from hitting anyone else. This is just macho bullshit so everyone can feel like they did something while accomplishing exactly nothing but making the league look Mickey Mouse and opening up even more players to concussion problems. Oh you so tough, Gallant.

But of course, you’ll find it championed on the league’s broadcast partner’s site. Which pretty much tells you what the league thinks of this stupid and seedy underbelly.

You may think we’re being hypocritical, given that Jonathan Toews went after Jake Muzzin on Sunday for a clearly dirty hit on Alex Nylander. In the moment, it’s hard to not understand. And also, Toews is an actual player. This isn’t his only use. He doesn’t have to justify his existence through this kind of thing, which makes it even more noticeable when he does this kind of thing. It was also in the spur of the moment, not planned out like Gallant and Reaves to exact a pound of flesh for perceived injustices.

Gallant planned this out and sent Reaves out to do his dirty work. We know Gallant played in the 80s with the asshole-riven Wings, but that time is past. But the league will never look twice.

Brayden McNabb: Sneaky dirty. We didn’t realize until last meeting. But as he gets slower he gets much more cross-check-ier.

Cody Glass: PUNCH THAT FACE.

Hockey

Ryan Reaves – As if it could be anyone else. Perhaps the most annoying portion of the Knights, and it’s a crowded field, is the idea they love to spout that they somehow rehabilitated this guy. And not that his improved numbers have anything to do with playing with actually talented fourth liners like Tomas Nosek or William Carrier or Ryan Carpenter last year, as we’re finding out. And the more people react to Reaves’s shit, the more he revels in it and the more it multiplies. This guy is a herpe.

Cody Glass – If you were looking for a rookie to add to the Most Punchable Face Team, here’s you’re winner in a landslide. Take Matt Duchene’s rich-kid gape and multiply it by ten and you’ve got Glass.

All The Fans In The Stands Tonight – We wouldn’t have thought so, but it only took one season for the Knights to have some of the more obnoxious bandwagon fans on Earth. And we know they’re not all traveling from Vegas around the country. This is the Avs from ’99 all over again. Maybe a Tuesday night will keep them at bay a bit, but if you’re heading to the UC tonight you’ll see. These are the grown-up versions of the kid in your class who always wore a Niners Startup jacket.

Everything Else

Gerrard Gallant will go down as the author of one of the most incredible seasons in North American sports history. He took an expansion team–a group of misfit toys and discarded fruit pits–with no real stars to three wins from the Stanley Cup. He did it by getting on the cutting edge of where the league is going, by having his team play faster than almost anyone could live with. The Knights got the puck up the ice as quickly as possible, trying to cram their chances in before teams could get set up to get in shooting lanes.

Gallant benefitted from a lot of players having career years, but he provided the atmosphere for players to flourish and enjoy their game. He didn’t try to shackle anyone. He may never accomplish as much again. And yet, on the biggest stage, Gallant went full hockey meatball.

Ryan Reaves, defying all that is good and right in the world, scored the game-winning goal in Game 1 of the Final. He did it in the only way Reaves can, getting in the way and having the puck bounce off of him. Reaves will never be more than a mouthy obelisk, and every so often when the planets align and all fart at the same time–or at least show a callousness to what should be- he’s an obelisk in the right place.

Which then prompted Gallant to throw out Reaves as his extra skater when the Knights were chasing the next four games. He did it three times, sending Reaves over the boards when pulling Fleury and chasing the Capitals. It would have left many dead from shock if they weren’t laughing so hard every filling popped loose and intestines were ruptured.

This is another backward hockey-think that should get anyone responsible stripped of their driver’s license to not put the rest of society in danger. The “hot stick.” Because Reaves had barfed a goal or two in recent games, Gallant was under the impression some hockey fairy or imp was planted on his shoulder that would make up for the fact that Reaves is nothing more than a well-compensated and less mobile ox. It’s like a reverse “cooler.”

The Knights weren’t getting to the Capitals anyway. And maybe Gallant had seen every gamble come up 7s for the Knights last season and figured he might as well push all-in again. No point in going conservative at that point. Still, even at the pinnacle of an impossible season, Gallant couldn’t escape hockey mysticism.

 

 

Game #25 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

In the end, what everyone hated or loved about the Vegas Golden Knights is that they were a mirror. When you watched them, you saw everything that this league is, good and bad.

On the bad side, the Knights exhibited for all that basically, no one knows shit and that it can be totally random. While those in the media were so quick to dub George “Tiger Punch” McPhee a genius–this being the same guy who hired Dale Hunter and Adam Oates in Washington, thus ruining a good three to four years of Alex Ovechkin’s prime–all he did was take advantage of a system that wouldn’t allow GMs to keep all the talent they’d drafted. And that system was in place because too many teams were too dumb to acquire a lot of talent. Sure, he was able to grift a couple GMs who had gone to cottage to huff white-out a bit early (hi Dale! Hi Bob! Say, why did all these guys used to work for the Hawks?), but it wasn’t he who conjured a .928 season out of Marc-Andre Fleury or a 25 SH% out of Wild Bill Karlsson (and we here eagerly await Karlsson’s 22-goal season next year with only 648 articles entitled “What’s Wrong With William Karlsson,” which of course no one will say the answer is “He’s William Karlsson, for fuck’s sake).

No, when you watched the Knights it became clear just how random the sport is. Find a goalie or two that spasm a .925+ SV% for no reason other than the gods enjoy a good chuckle now and then and a couple guys to shoot the lights out and you’re halfway there. Throw in some spice of being in a division where every goddamn team is built to be “tough to play against” (i.e. dumb and slow) and just skate by them and then anything can happen. A few bounces, a few one-goal wins, and suddenly you’re the most magical team this side of…. well, any MLS expansion team.

And if you can garnish it all with the fact that apparently no NHL player had ever heard of Las Vegas before, and every opponent showed up to your arena looking like Mia Wallace after she got into Vincent’s coat pocket and well, the sky’s the goddamn limit, isn’t it?

Watch the Knights long enough, and unless you were a fan of a certain few teams, you could see just how stupid your team was run. The Knights ran over the Kings, who are on their fourth consecutive season of trying to ice a rec rugby team, and then they could tell everyone they play rugby within the first three minutes of any conversation because that’s apparently what rugby players do in this country (and if you ever meet a rugby playing vegan, run for the hills, friendo). They got to show the Sharks just how old they are, as Pete DeBoer replaced their only young d-man with whatever wasn’t falling off of Paul Martin, and whatever was.

Then came the Jets, who actually rolled them for a fair amount but Fleury snorted an infinity stone or something and everyone chalked it up to “magic.” Of course, a series later and everything looked exactly as it did against the Jets except Fleury was doing a reasonable impression of muppet running an Iron Man (i.e. being Marc-Andre Fleury circa 2010-2016) and suddenly they’re getting their magical, Cinderella ass paddled (insert your Cinderella pansexual fanfic here).

And yes, even the architect of all this, Gerard Gallant, had his brain drip out his ear in the final round. Anyone who’s surprised by this must’ve never watched him play for the Red Wings, where during his 11-year career he actually touched the puck 12 times. But hey, this is the NHL, if you’ve got a leathered up face, were a grinder once upon a time, and have some sort of weird nickname, the press will slather you in their saliva. So there’s Jack Adams winner-elect putting out Ryan Reaves, not once but twice, as the extra-attacker when down a goal. Why? Because he had managed to rhino-hump his way into two goals into two games. I’m sure James Neal didn’t consider Marty McSorley-ing his coach at all during this stretch. He scratched David Perron, who granted really does suck but did manage to put up 66 points this year in a series where no one but the top line could do anything other than stare at the lights. And this is the best coach during the season. #EndHockey.

All of it led the hockey world declaring Vegas as the best new hockey market, and you’re not really a hockey town until Pierre McGuire declares “I haven’t heard a building this loud all spring…” and then NBC edits out the part where he concludes that sentence with, “…except for Mississauga last week when they were playing Sudbury!” Give the ash-white Canadian media three days anywhere where it’s warm and has running water, because wherever they’re from assuredly doesn’t, and suddenly you’re Hockey Mecca.

While the pregame antics were cute, much like every other Vegas act it’s going to feel camp real soon. Especially when this team has 92 points next year at best and Fleury’s SV% is .907. Sure, Vegas is going to be a free agent destination given it’s lack of state income tax and the climate. How’s that working out for the Panthers? Your glorious pre-game Knight stabbing some dude waving a flag (how tough!) is going to look a little different when it’s in front of 9,000 Flames fans and that’s it.

So thank you, Knights, for showing everyone what we all knew about the league and hockey all along. It doesn’t make sense, there is no system to it, and just about anything can happen. And it’s going to happen to you soon, like trading Karlsson for a 2nd round pick at best in two years.

Everything Else

So that’s what Game 1 in 2010 looked like to everyone else.

It’s been a while since we’ve had two teams that haven’t been anywhere close to this in the Final, or at least hadn’t been in recent history. Basically 2012, and neither the Kings or Devils played a system that could get loose at times. The Penguins had been there the past two years and still had players who had been there seven years before, and the four before that were populated by the Kings or Hawks. So it’s not a huge shock that nerves might have gotten the better of both sides, at least to open Game 1.

At the top, before going any further, let me say that and I and most every other hockey fan would take last night’s disjointed, frantic, kindergarten recess of a hockey game as entertainment every damn time over whatever shlock a trapping or conservative or outright scared team like the Kings, or one coached by Mike Babcock would offer. It was fun, if not particularly graceful, and if that’s what the series ends up being, so be it.

But for all of the gushing, and it was exciting, it wasn’t particularly good. Or particularly well-executed, let’s say. The Knights force such a pace, and we saw this in last year’s Final too, that it’s hard for either team to play what you’d call a “smooth” game. It’s very hard for teams to complete passes, and it’s very hard for their to not be turnovers and defensive breakdowns, such is the rate that everything is happening. And it’s open and there are chances, but they’re not built out of skill or brilliance so much as just cracks forming, Which is fine, it’s just not art. Only Carlson’s goal that tied the game at 3 last night would you say was well-worked, along with Nosek’s winner. But the latter had Devante Smith-Pelley make a mistake to lead to it (and the make sure everyone in the arena and at home knew how upset he was with himself. Oh my god so upset. Look at how upset he is everyone! Can’t you see how upset he is?! ARGH SO UPSET!). And Carlson’s goal was the result of Marc-Andre Fleury looking like the drunk trying to negotiate his keys at 4am. Still, better than most alternatives.

The Knights don’t really care if their passing isn’t crisp, as they don’t really attempt that many. They chip and flip pucks into the neutral zone and only worry about passes when they’re on the rush and the offensive zone. I don’t know if the Caps can play like this and win four of the next six, but we’ll find out. They’ll feel they missed a real opportunity because Fleury wasn’t all that good and you probably have to win the “Fleury Isn’t Fleury” game this spring. Then again, MAF was always do for some kind of regression, be it now or October.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the NHL if it didn’t have its head in its ass at crucial points. And when you have Ryan Reaves and Tom Wilson out there, your game’s head is going to be even more firmly lodged in its colon. I have always fucking hated the policy refs have in the playoffs of swallowing the whistle and “letting the players decide.” All that is is abdicating responsibility and sinking into spinlessness for those who are supposed to be officiating the game. Ryan Reaves is a dolt, and he essentially “cheated” to score the equalizing goal in the 3rd. The players have decided. A superior player in Carlson has good position on him and Reaves illegally moved him. The players have “decided” that should be a penalty. The refs have “decided” to simply give Vegas a crucial goal. I’ll forgive a missed call here and there in the neutral zone where a lot more has to happen before it results in a change on the scoreboard. This led directly to a goal, and a big one. That’s not the players deciding. That’s the refs deciding by losing any gumption to do their jobs.

As for Wilson, in a league that made sense and wasn’t afraid of yelling old white men (and it’s not the only one, as you can recall the Yuri Gurriel fiasco from the last World Series), Tom Wilson would be thrown out for the rest of the Final. This is a repeat offense. It was an attempt to injure, and calling it “finishing a check” is the height of idiocy. There was nothing to be gained from clobbering Marchessault three seconds after he had the puck, other than to knock him out of the game. And it was from the blind-side, so it’s not like he was “pressuring” Marchessault.

Wilson quite simply is a menace, he’s a hazard to his fellow professionals and tossing him for the rest of the most important series the sport has to offer might finally be the lesson that gets through his and any other’s leaden skull. Just fucking chuck him. The league will be better off without him.

Everything Else

It’s not so much what Ryan Reaves is, because we’ve gone over that time and time again when he was belching and grunting his way through shifts in St. Louis. It’s that the two-time defending champions felt the need to trade for him that’s so dispiriting as a hockey fan.

Because the Penguins didn’t need this before, when they were having two parades you might have seen. The Pens decided to populate their fourth line with kids who could just skate really fast. They might not have been the most skilled, Kuhnackl, Wilson. Sheary, Rowney last year were some of the hellions that simply skated other plodding units into dust. They did it the year before as well.

That would also mean the last three champions didn’t need a “goon,” as the ’15 Hawks didn’t have one or need one. And generally these players are stripped of their jerseys in the playoffs, which lets you know that teams really do know deep down that they don’t serve any purpose.

I’m sure what Jim Rutherford would tell you is that he sees players like Tom Wilson in Washington or the rapidly-decomposing Brandon Dubinsky in Columbus who is only going to punch Crosby in the head or whatever other jackass is keeping him up at night. But hockey always has it backwards. GMs see Wilson try and decapitate someone, and not get suspended for the 10-15 games that is warranted, and they don’t conclude that they have to get this type of player out of the game. They conclude they need one of their own.

Hockey will remain in the dark, both in ages and viewership, until this type of dumbass brinksmanship is buried in the past. Let others have their morons, and score on the power plays they will assuredly give you.

It’s a sad state of affairs when the team that’s won the past two championships is still paying attention to the wrong scoreboard.

Game #1 Preview Posts

Preview

Q&A

Lineups
Everything Else

It’s not so much what Ryan Reaves is, because we’ve gone over that time and time again when he was belching and grunting his way through shifts in St. Louis. It’s that the two-time defending champions felt the need to trade for him that’s so dispiriting as a hockey fan.

Because the Penguins didn’t need this before, when they were having two parades you might have seen. The Pens decided to populate their fourth line with kids who could just skate really fast. They might not have been the most skilled, Kuhnackl, Wilson. Sheary, Rowney last year were some of the hellions that simply skated other plodding units into dust. They did it the year before as well.

That would also mean the last three champions didn’t need a “goon,” as the ’15 Hawks didn’t have one or need one. And generally these players are stripped of their jerseys in the playoffs, which lets you know that teams really do know deep down that they don’t serve any purpose.

I’m sure what Jim Rutherford would tell you is that he sees players like Tom Wilson in Washington or the rapidly-decomposing Brandon Dubinsky in Columbus who is only going to punch Crosby in the head or whatever other jackass is keeping him up at night. But hockey always has it backwards. GMs see Wilson try and decapitate someone, and not get suspended for the 10-15 games that is warranted, and they don’t conclude that they have to get this type of player out of the game. They conclude they need one of their own.

Hockey will remain in the dark, both in ages and viewership, until this type of dumbass brinksmanship is buried in the past. Let others have their morons, and score on the power plays they will assuredly give you.

It’s a sad state of affairs when the team that’s won the past two championships is still paying attention to the wrong scoreboard.

Game #1 Preview Posts

Preview

Q&A

Lineups
Everything Else

It’s not so much what Ryan Reaves is, because we’ve gone over that time and time again when he was belching and grunting his way through shifts in St. Louis. It’s that the two-time defending champions felt the need to trade for him that’s so dispiriting as a hockey fan.

Because the Penguins didn’t need this before, when they were having two parades you might have seen. The Pens decided to populate their fourth line with kids who could just skate really fast. They might not have been the most skilled, Kuhnackl, Wilson. Sheary, Rowney last year were some of the hellions that simply skated other plodding units into dust. They did it the year before as well.

That would also mean the last three champions didn’t need a “goon,” as the ’15 Hawks didn’t have one or need one. And generally these players are stripped of their jerseys in the playoffs, which lets you know that teams really do know deep down that they don’t serve any purpose.

I’m sure what Jim Rutherford would tell you is that he sees players like Tom Wilson in Washington or the rapidly-decomposing Brandon Dubinsky in Columbus who is only going to punch Crosby in the head or whatever other jackass is keeping him up at night. But hockey always has it backwards. GMs see Wilson try and decapitate someone, and not get suspended for the 10-15 games that is warranted, and they don’t conclude that they have to get this type of player out of the game. They conclude they need one of their own.

Hockey will remain in the dark, both in ages and viewership, until this type of dumbass brinksmanship is buried in the past. Let others have their morons, and score on the power plays they will assuredly give you.

It’s a sad state of affairs when the team that’s won the past two championships is still paying attention to the wrong scoreboard.

Game #1 Preview Posts

Preview

Q&A