Monday, November 21, 2011

The Return of Sidney Crosby

My thoughts on the return of Sidney Crosby. I actually took half the day off work so I could catch the entire game. Didn't want to miss a minute of Crosday!

The Isles "win" the Sidney Crosby Lottery
When they first announced Crosby would return against the Islanders the only thing that I could think of was the Pittsburgh bench with 4 players on it. You know, last year when the Isles sucker punched Max Talbot and concussed Eric Tangradi and Brent ‘MoFo’ Johnson decided to beat the snot out of Rick Depietro. Yeah that. I mean sure the Isles, who have yet to win an away game this season, seem like a easy win but it made me nervous.

Captain Canada
So I hear this title goes to Ryan Smyth but until BOTH CBC and Versus interrupt regularly scheduled programming to nationally feature Smyth returning from an injury, I will continue to call Sidney Crosby Captain Canada. And I would argue that most of the NHL would too. Yes he’s The Face of The Game but he’s not just the NHL poster boy he is the face of Canada in the game as well. Sure the league is dominated by Canadians but Sid IS this eras Great One. He is Canada’s most famous active hockey player.

The Game
On his first shift he almost gets an assist and on his second he scores. Crosby screamed "FUCK YEAH" and NHL fans everywhere echoed that sentiment. He went on to play seconds short of 16 minutes and get 4 points. More importantly than his large point tally, his presence elevated the Penguins game as a whole. Not only was their much more fire under all their skates but things like their struggling Power Play was improved. Even after such a long absence Crosby showed patience and remained unselfish setting up many teammates including Orpik and Malkin (Malkin numerous times, only one of which he scored on.)

As for contact, Sidney took an easy crosscheck but that was about it. The real test will be when he plays teams with more grit like Montreal or teams with less morals like Boston.

The Take Away
Ovechkin is a lazy douche. Yes, that’s what I am taking away from this. So many people for the last several years have debated who is better Sid or Ovie. Sidney Crosby’s injury left the door wide open for Alexandre Ovechkin to run away with the league. Literally. Ovie could have owned the league in scoring, in assists, in penalty minutes - in ANYTHING. But he did absolutely nothing of value. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Zip.

Let’s face it, Ovechkin has 15 points so far this season. If Crosby averages 4 points a game he will pass that in 4 games. There is no debate. Sidney Crosby is a better hockey player than Alexandre Ovechkin. End of story. The only debate is why. Is Ovechkin simply not as skilled or is he just incredibly lazy. Discuss.
(The answer is both)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Either You're With Him, Or Against Us

The title of my blog seems to be the general consensus of Canucks diehards when it comes to their goalie. You either love him unconditionally and with blinding faith or you’re labeled a bandwagoner, a fake fan and a hockey ‘tard who knows nothing about the Canucks. I have to admit the peer pressure on this one gets to me. I rarely say a bad thing about Roberto Luongo because I love my twitter friends and don’t want to be the kid who has to eat lunch by themselves (or more accurately, eat dinner by themselves at the next tweet-up).

But the night before my wedding last week I had a revelation as I was being teased by my future husband’s relatives (all diehard, lifelong Habs fans). One of his cousins said to me “Do you still believe in your goalie?” And I was honest with him. For the first time out loud I uttered the truth. My answer was “I have to believe in him because he’s not going anywhere.”

The fact is I’m not honestly sure if Roberto Luongo can or will ever win a Stanley Cup in Vancouver. Now before you log off this blog and block me on twitter, I will fully admit that last year he was a beast in regular season. We could not have won the division without him. We couldn’t have had such great comebacks or wins. He isn’t a horrible goalie. He’s not even a mediocre one. I once got into such a heated fight with my now-husband when he said Luongo didn’t earn his Olympic Gold Medal that I slept on the couch. Seriously. But the fact is – if I can reveal my true feelings and not be attacked – I don’t trust Roberto Luongo. I think he’s sporadic in both his abilities and his drive.

Is he lazy? Is he comfortable? Is his skin too thick? My thoughts – No, Yes and Yes. He’s not lazy. He trains hard and works hard. I won’t fault him that. But is he comfortable? Most definitely. He’s got a solid contract locked down with no chance of a trade and a guaranteed, serious paycheck until the end of his career. It doesn’t matter what happens, how many fans rant about him or TSN commentators snark about him, or how many times he belly flops (Example 1001: Malkin’s shoot out goal in the home opener). Lu’s not going anywhere.

As for the thick skin – the only two goalies in the league that are playing in a pressure cooker are Luongo and Price. Habs fans are rabid and merciless. Vancouver fans can be that way too but on top of that Luongo has the pressure of playing on the most hated team in the league and the one voted most overrated by players themselves. He’s got added negativity, pressure and scrutiny so he has to have a thick skin. The problem is I think his skin has become too thick. Every time he’s interviewed after a loss he blows it off BIG time. Like with hurricane wind-like force.

After the game 6 loss in 2010 to the Hawks he said “I don’t know what to tell you. I battle as hard as I can out there you know?” His demeanor was flippant and lackadaisical. His comments since the Stanley Cup game 7 loss have been similar. Stuff like “I’m not going to over analyze things right now. I mean that’s hockey. Sometimes you’re going to win and sometimes you’re going to lose.”

Now here’s some of Ryan Kesler’s comments: “There are no excuses…. We had a chance to put them away in their own building and we didn’t.”

A little bit different. And yeah, Kes is locked into a contract too although not with a No Trade Clause and he also has the sting of an Olympic second best spurring him on I suppose. But either way. Lu too easily shrugs off the failures. It irks the crap out of me. No he shouldn’t carry the entire weight of a loss on his shoulders but he should at least look to be carrying something other than his hair lube.

I really don’t hate him. I am not screaming TRADE HIM. I swallow down the frustration when I watch a goalie like Marc Andre Fleury repeatedly manage drop to his knees to block a shot and not belly flop onto his stomach. REPEATEDLY. Did I mention that – as in more than once…. And I think Luongo CAN lead his team to a Stanley Cup. I just don’t know if he wants to be bothered to do it.

What Can Light His Fire
Ginger Bricks. That’s the answer. AV, who is definitely a big part of making Lu too comfortable, has said he will play Schneider more this season than last. But if he only plays him against the Oilers or the Blue Jackets or other random, no-risk teams he’s not doing Schneids or Lu (or fans) any favors. Cory needs to start in big games. If I had a say, Cory would start every game in the United Center. He’d start in LA, in San Jose and yes, Boston. Give him games against rivals. We all know Luongo is better on home ice so give Schneider the opportunity to be better on away ice.

I’ve been saying it to anyone who will listen – Vancouver has TWO STARTER GOALIES. This is likely the last year we have this advantage – so let’s use it. Play them equally. Lu has proven he is no Carey Price. Where Price turtled under the pressure of a starter quality back-up (Halak), Luongo seemed to get more driven and focused with the emergence of Schneider. This is the only leverage we have – the only way to light his fire. Even he must know that if Schneids out performs him, trade clause or not playing in Vancouver would be unbearable. So throw Schneider out there often and in important circumstances. Luongo, if history remains repeatable, will only get better with the competition.

I think the one thing we can all agree on whether we love Lu or hate him or are ridiculously conflicted over him like I am, is this – Vancouver NEEDS a Cup. If that means sitting a million dollar goalie in a crucial game I'm okay with that. And you should be okay with that too.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's Do Time, Not Die Time

Dear Vancouver Canucks,

I'm a mix of emotions right now. Good, bad and ugly. I have a feeling you boys feel the same way. So let's vent about the bad and the ugly and have a pity party right here and now so we can move on shall we?

Yes what happened to Raymond was horrible and uncalled for. Yes the referees not calling an interference penalty was complete crap. They totally ripped you off. And yeah, the NHL once again smacked you, Canucks, in the face when they didn't follow up with discipline on Boychuk after what they handed down to Rome. And without a doubt Marchand essentially bitch-slapping Daniel over and over and over because he "felt like it" and the ref only calling a penalty when it was obvious the mentally unbalanced Bruin wasn't going to stop until next tuesday was completely unfair. Humiliating and unfair.

But you know what? Life isn't fair. You know how they say living well is the best revenge? Well in your case, WINNING is your only revenge. So suck up all the crap the league and the Bruins have throw your way and win the Stanley Cup anyway!

Realize this simple fact Vancouver Canucks - you are not any farther away from the Cup than you were Friday night after the final whistle. It's still only one win away. ONE. WIN. That's all.

You did it Friday. I was there. I was the one with the red lettered I Believe In Luongo Sign. Your skill outplayed their brute force. You were faster, smarter and just plain better. I know it feels like climbing a mountain and you're even more battered and beleaguered than you were Friday - but you can do it again. Just once more. Just once more and it's all over. One. More. Win.

Canucks, in Games 1,2 and 5 you took Tim Thomas' sometimes chaotic, mostly lucky (lack-of) style and capitalized on its weaknesses. The fact is he's not confident, he's cocky. There's a difference. The same can be said for the entire Bruins squad - cocky not confident. They're bullies. They're goons. Their fans are cheap and the players are dirty. You can't change that and the NHL certainly won't condemn them for it so just forget about it.

You have to get past their cheap classless moves. Ignore it. Focus on the only thing that matters - that you've reached the end. There is no do-over after Wednesday night. No chance to regroup. No room for error.

You have to be sharp - something that comes easily to you but not the Bruins. They aren't about sharpness or talent. They're about chaos and cheap chances. Don't give them any. Play smart and tight and hard. It's do or die time. And you must DO, not die.

Useless referees and a biased league - so what? You haven't let it stop you all season so don't start now. YOU CONTROL YOUR OWN DESTINY. Never forget that. Wednesday is YOURS to win.

You are back in YOUR house. You are playing YOUR hockey. In front of YOUR fans. It's been YOUR season - from start to finish YOU have OWNED this league. One more win and YOU OWN the Stanley Cup.

I will be screaming just as hard from my couch Wednesday as I was Friday in the stands. And I won't be the only one. You have more people behind you than the media would have you believe, trust me on that. (Yes even you Roberto Luongo. Especially you.)

Do it for Luc. Do it for Hamhuis. Do it for Samuelsson. Do it for Rome. Do it for Raymond. Do it for us, your diehard fans who never give up on you. But most of all do it for yourselves. You've earned it. Now go out there and take it.

Bottom line: you, the Vancouver Canucks, can do this. I believe. YOU believe. Now make it happen!

With all my love, faith and support


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dear Vancouver Canucks

Dear Vancouver Canucks,

It's me again. Your longtime, opinionated and passionate fan. You may remember me from my
Open Letter to Ryan Kesler last year or my ferverent plea during your Chicago Blackhawks series this year. Then again, you may not remember me at all - and that's okay too. You're kinda busy right now and I get that. But I'm writing you once again to chat. I think we need to touch base and regroup after Game 3 and Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

First off I would like to set the record straight - I do NOT hate you. not a single solitary one of you. I know the media in this city love to make it seem like we're all a bunch of incensed, judgemental fans a la Montreal Habs variety but we aren't. Not all Canucks fans cheered when Luongo was pulled last night. I would even dare to venture that not all the fans in Rogers Arena cheered his departure from last night's game. Just because a bunch of towels were raised at the moment he left the ice and Cory Schneider skated onto it doesn't mean squat. I personally was cheering the fact that Cory was going to play in his home state in the Stanley Cup Finals. What a great thing that was for him! I love Lu. And I love Schneids too. I was happy to see him play but it was NOT at Luongo's expense. When Luongo starts Game 5 I will cheer just as loudly for him.

Secondly I want to say this - The 2011 Boston Bruins are not the 2009-2010 Chicago Blackhawks. I think for some reason you, Canucks, might be feeling like they are. Because well frankly you are starting to play like you did against that hideous team that beat the life out of you way back when. And you are so NOT that team anymore. You're past that! Sure the Bruins resemble the Hawks in the fact that they're cheap and dirty, but the Bruins lack the actual skill that the Blackhawks have. They don't have a Kane or a Toews who can score regardless of cheap back-up help. Peverley and Marchand get lucky off their dirty antics and the dirty antics of their teammates - not a lot of base skill there. OWN that information and USE it.

Yes, they're essentially trying to maim the twins on every play. Let them (no offense Hanky and Danky, I wish you no harm and I know you can handle it). But while the Bruins concentrate on harrassing the twins the rest of you should be concentrating on putting pucks to the net like you did in other series. You've proven that the wonder twins are the icing on the Vancouver cake not the cake itself - Hansen, Torres, Kesler, Burrows, Bieksa, Raymond, Malholtra - you can all score and set up plays too. So do it. Don't worry about retaliation. Take the anger at the inaccurate reffing calls and constant bullying by the Dirty Bears, swallow it down and SHOOT.

Thirdly, Thomas is a wall. But it's a wall built of toothpicks, popsicle sticks and junkyard bricks. He's chaotic. He's spastic. He's not impenetrable - he's just unpredictable. I know you know that if you get him out of his crease (which can happen easily any time he goes for a puck) you can get a rebound past him. Just GET ON THOSE REBOUNDS!

You are the CANUCKS. You know how to do this. You've done it all year! Your Power Plays are to be FEARED. Show them why. Crash the net, pepper Thomas with rubber. You did it the first two games - that wasn't that long ago - ignore the petty, cheap dirty style known as "Bruins Hockey" and concentrate on the skilled, intense, unrelenting style known as "Canucks Hockey"

One last thing - are you tired? Because you look tired. And yeah you've earned the right to be tired. But think about it this way, if you're the kid in the backseat whining "are we there yet?" during a long journey - the answer is finally YES you are ALMOST there. Two more games. That's all it'll take - TWO MORE WINS. So buck up! Dig deep. Give it everything you have and then take a deep breath and give it more. You have the skill and the style it takes to win this - the Bruins can only win this if you continue to forget that you, the Vancouver Canucks, are the true talent. You are the ones with the grit, heart and determination. Not the Boston Bruins. Don't let them make you forget that.

I'll be at Game 5 screaming my head off for all of you. I KNOW you've got this. You can and will bring Lord Stanley home.

Much love, support and faith,


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Stanley Cup Final by Numbers

So here we go - The 2011 Stanley Cup Final. The Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins. Let's make the prediction on the winner after some numbers fun, shall we?

  • 87 - The amount of years the Boston Bruins have been in the NHL.

  • 40 - The amount of years the Vancouver Canucks have been in the NHL.

  • 40 - the amount of years the Canucks have been Cupless.

  • 39 - the amount of years the Boston Bruins have been Cupless.

  • 5 - The amount of times Boston has lost a Stanley Cup final since their last Cup in 1972.

  • 2 - the amount of times Vancouver has lost a Cup Final.

  • 17 - The number of Canadian players on the Boston Bruins roster. Coincidentally, the Vancouver Canucks also have 17 Canadians on their roster. Ironically American born Ryan Kesler wears number 17.

  • 2 - The number of Americans on the Boston Bruins roster.

  • 5 - The number of Americans on the Vancouver Canucks. So dear Boston fans, if you chant "USA" at the Stanley Cup Finals like you have been known to do previously, you will actually be cheering more Canuck players then Bruins players so kindly STFU and save yourself the embarrassment.

  • 2 - the amount of 2010 Olympic gold medalists playing in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final - Center Patrice Bergeron of Boston and goalie Roberto Luongo of Vancouver both played for Team Canada last year. Coincidentally there are also 2 Olympic silver medalists playing in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final - Center Ryan Kesler of Vancouver and goalie Tim Thomas of Boston both played for Team USA last year.

  • 21 - The number of points Henrik Sedin has in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

  • 54 - The amount of wins the Canucks had in the regular season. Unfortunately, none of those wins were against Boston. We played them once in regular season and lost.

  • 18 - The amount of games it took BOTH the Bruins and Canucks to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Canucks went to 7 against Hawks, 6 against Preds and 5 against Sharks. Bruins went 7 against Habs, 4 against Flyers and 7 against Tampa. This means, theorectically the Canucks are getting stronger with every series and the bruins are not.

  • 63 - the amount of penalties the bruins have taken in the post season.

  • 28 - the percentage number (28%) of goals the Canucks have scored on PPs in post-season.

  • 61 - the number of Power Play chances the Bruins have had in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to score.

  • 5 - the number of power plays goals the Bruins managed to score on 61 chances

  • 4 - the amount of facts directly above this one that make it clear that if the Bruins do not play 5-on-5 hockey they will lose the Stanley Cup. (and I'm okay with that).

  • And last but not least: 5 - the number of games I think it will take the Vancouver Canucks to win the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Canucks Love Fest

Last night the Vancouver Canucks won the Western Conference Finals of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. They won in Double Overtime exactly 17 years to the day they won last time. I want to write an insightful, quote worthy blog about this but.... to be honest I am still pretty overcome with emotion and I'm drowning in my fangirlness. I don't care about being impartial or insightful.

Blue Believes In Blue
I'm proud of so many things about the vancouver Canucks right now. It's been a long, sometimes tough journey and even when I started to doubt them - Round 1 against the Blackhawks - they didn't doubt themselves. This I honestly believe made all the difference. They KNOW they can do this.

Eat Your Words Wellwood, Not Cheeseburgers

Maybe Wellwood (or as Bieksa called him The Weasel) was right. Maybe when he was on the team we were afraid to lose. But this year the Canucks didn't treat a single game like it was anything more than a single game. Kesler repeated this to the media a lot - they weren't thinking about the Cup or the Western Conference Finals, just about the game at hand. And it worked. Here we are, Western Conference Champions.

From Princess to King
Kesler last year was one of my least favorite Canucks. I am not going to lie, the proof was in the blogging. I called him Princess Kesler. I couldn't stand all his whining and his diving and his Olympic bitching. I love yappy players but only when they have the skill to back it up - re: Burrows. Last year and previous years Kesler, IMO, was more talk than walk. He was the King of Near Misses not goals. This year... he's not a princess he is a KING. He's still the most passioante player on the ice but he's channelled that passion into determination, drive and skill. He is the heart and the backbone of the Vancouver Canucks.

The Brains
If Ryan Kesler is the heart and backbone of the team the Sedin Twins are the brains. And in previous playoffs - and even the beginning of the 2011 playoffs - they've been MIA. But in Round 2 they started to wake up. By Round 3 against the San Jose Sharks the twins were back to playing like it was just another game in February. In other words, they were spectacular. This is the best thing that could ever happen to the Canucks. They are now a full functioning high performance machine. The twins don't get a lot of credit because they aren't flashy players. They don't give high-profile quotes off the ice and they don't score those crazy Bieksa Bounce goals or hand out Ballard Hip Checks on the ice. But their subtly is what makes them brilliant and breath-taking. That pass from Henrik to Burrows through the five-hole of Niemi will forever be etched in my brain as one of the most amazing hockey plays I have ever seen.

There Is No "I" In Team Or the Word "Canucks"
Last night the Hockey Night In Canada Announcers were waxing poetic about Joe Thornton and his injury. Essentially they were eulogizing him and the Sharks. His injury was - according to them - a devastating loss for the Sharks, one that basically put the nail in their coffin. And that's when I realized that yes, the Canucks have some key players - Kesler and the twins. But they aren't the only players that show up. They aren't the only ones that produce. We're deep. We're resilient. I think we're very blessed that Kesler, Daniel and Henrik have remained relatively intact through the playoffs but I also believe with every fiber of my being that if - Hockey Gods forbid - something took one of them out, our team overcome. Bieksa, Burrows, Higgins, Lapierre, Tanev, Hansen, Tambellini, Raymond - you name the guy he has or will step up in a time of need. We are a team of hard working, skilled players. We are not a couple of stars carrying the hopes and dreams of all. I believe in every single one of our players.

We Are Not All Canucks, But Who Cares?
They naysayers are still running rampant. One of the more ridiculous statements on Twitter - "Canucks only got here because of bad reffing calls" (and they don't mean all those bad calls we perservered through). Luongo still "gets Lucky" and the Sedin twins are still "Useless" to some even though Lu made 54 saves in the last game and Henrik leads the playoffs in points. To all of you who hate us I say - so be it. I have no urge to make the Canucks Canada's team or the West's Team. Vancouver fans have stuck with them thru thick and thin - we shouldn't have to share them now anyway. I'm perfectly happy keeping the pride, love and triumph all to myself.

In The Words Of Whitney Houston, I Will Always Love You
I truly, totally and utterly believe that the Vancouver Canucks will win the Stanley Cup. But no matter the end result, I just want to say here and now that I will always be proud of this season. I will always be grateful to every member of the 2010-2011 Vancouver Canucks roster for their heart and their drive and their accomplishments. I am so happy and proud to be your fan.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much Canucks.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Conference Finals Predictions

My predictions haven't been spot-on this year. In Round 1 I got 5 out of 8 match-up winners right. In Round 2 - I got 1 out of 4 right. Let's see if I can redeem myself with the 2011 Stanley Cup playoff conference finals.

The East

Boston Bruins vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay have more precision and skill on offensive with Lecavelier, Stamkos, And the Smurf (St. Louis). They also have Douchebag Downie who has been a bit of a rockstar (albeit a douchey one). But Boston has pure, unadulterated goon force. What they lack in graceful offense they make up for in ungraceful defense and just all out force. Tampa Bay doesn't have the depth to get down and dirty and that's how Boston plays. They'll have the Lightning cowering and possibly crying. I would love to see the Smurf cry.
Puck Bunny Prediction: Boston Bruins in 6.

The West Bold
Vancouver Canucks vs San Jose Shark
These teams, when you look at previous rounds, have had similiar paths to the final. Both lost 3-game leads and had to claw their way out of a Round. Both have had stars underproduce (Pavelski and the Sedin twins), both have had players dominate (Kesler and Couture) and both have had unexpected, delightful surprises (Setoguchi and Higgins). But here's the biggest difference - the Canucks have gotten more focused and stronger as they progressed. Their near-meltdown happened in Round 1 and though Round 2 was a bit of a battle thanks to Rinne there was no mental break and they stayed focused and dominated throughout, even in the games they lost. The Sharks mental meltdown happened in Round 2 - which may mean they are on a descent instead of an ascent. Also regular season between these teams, if it matters at all, was dominated by the Canucks. If the Sedin twins can wake up this would be easy. I don't think they will, but I still say the Canucks win.
Puck Bunny Prediction: Vancouver Canucks in 7.