Archive for February, 2010

Oh. Canada.

February 28, 2010

Not much to say after the close of that one, really. Or, more accurately, not much that I want to say. Feeling a bit too exhausted by the whole experience to put together much perspective, at least in written form. I found myself heavily emotionally invested in this US squad by the time this tournament rolled to a close. I couldn’t help myself. Right now it just feels deflating and I think some reflection is in order before a proper wrap.

In the end, Team Canada and the country they represented, had their Moment. I cannot begrudge them that, at this point. Let’s just hope some hefty measure of respect will be given to a feisty, hard working USA team that were the real reason this tournament became so compelling. To give the favorites a game like that today, they earned it.

Applause all around.

Now, can a brother get a hockey fight please?


Golden Ticket

February 28, 2010

The USA’s Zach Parise just scored with Ryan Miller pulled and under 30 seconds to go in regulation to push the Gold Medal Game of Team USA vs. Team Canada into sudden death 4-4 overtime.

If this isn’t already one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen it now most assuredly has the chance to be.

Someone get the jaws of life so I can pry my white knuckled hands off the armrests of my seat.

Deep breaths, people, deep breaths.

13 Minute Game

February 26, 2010

USA Beats Finland

This one was over quickly, wasn’t it?

13 minutes in the Americans were up 6-0 and the Finns were mailing it in and this game was, for all intents and purposes, a wrap.

As blown away as I was watching Canada come out and (euro)trash the Russians on Wednesday, Team USA’s onslaught against Team Finland today was even more impressive, I think. They were focused on their game, intense, driven.

Exactly what you need to get to a Gold Medal Game.

What happened to Miikka Kiprusoff, I have no idea. The last time I saw a goaltender essentially pull himself from a game was Patrick Roy’s blow-up against Detroit that signaled his final days in Montreal.

Tonight, Team Canada goes up against Zdeno Chara and the upstart Slovaks in what is surely looking like the better of the two contests played today. If Canada can pull it out we’re on course for an epic rematch on Sunday.

USA vs. Canada.

This time, it’s personal.

Tretiak: Ovechkin More Canadian Than Crosby

February 24, 2010

Leading up to tonight’s über fascinating square off in Vancouver between Team Canada and Team Russia, a lot of folks have been highlighting the Sydney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin angle. We all know the backstory between them from the NHL, the hotly contested playoff series, the war of words, the general testiness that neither of them avoid. To quote one of my favorite bands, “No Love Lost”.

While we here at HGW realize there’s a whole lot more to this game than a two-man mini drama, it’s also an aspect we’d be stupid to ignore because it is so interesting to watch. Ovechkin’s personality alone makes it so.

With that in mind, here’s my favorite quote on the matter, comments from Vladimir Tretiak, goaltending legend and current GM of the Russian Olympic team, happily fanning the flames of the rivalry between the young stars.

In terms of style, Crosby is a more European player than Ovechkin. And Ovechkin is more North American … Ovechkin resembles Lindros when he’s playing. He’s trying to check and it’s not the pure Russian style. Gretzky never used to play like this.

Now, I happen to think this is very, very true and those of you who know what HGW is all about will understand why this leads us to believe that Ovechkin is the superior player, the more entertaining to watch and, ultimately, the bigger impact on his team. He’s more of a leader, more of a force on the ice.

A good example from a recent Bruins game (that I show because the clip I really want to pimp, Ovechkin destroying Jaromir Jagr with agreat open-ice hit in that Russia-Czech game earlier in the tourney, apparently has some copyright issues on Youtube). Here’s Alex responding to some physical play from the B’s Johnny Boychuck.

That’s it, folks. In a nutshell.

I know Crosby has had his moments and even dropped the gloves a few times but let’s be honest. He’s not repeatedly pounding on your sixth defenseman during a road game in early February with that sort of zeal. That’s the fire, in my mind, that separates the two.

Tonight, on the biggest global stage imaginable, we’ll see if it makes the difference.

Bracket Racket

February 23, 2010

A reasonably easy to follow bracket layout on illustrates the Men’s Olympic Tourney for us. Obviously, Canada has paved an incredibly difficult road for themselves thanks to their dissapointing loss to the US on Sunday. They now need to go through three teams just to get to the finals, with good odds that two of those teams will be major contenders; Russia and Sweden.

Canadian fans suggesting the loss to the US was a good thing were obviously hallucinating badly. Russia, led by superman-on-a-mission Alex Ovechkin and Sweden, reigning Gold Medalist led by Henrik Lundqvist who has yet to give up a goal in the tournament, will not go gently against leaf emblazoned all-stars.

Meanwhile, the US, by playing so well up to this point, have remarkably increased their chances of getting to the gold medal game with a bye today and their first game tomorrow against the winners of today’s marquee Swtzerland vs. Belarus match-up. Their biggest test should come in the semi-finals against the Fins or Czechs. Right now, my money is on Team USA getting to the finals and if I had to wager on the other side, I’d give Russia the edge to be their opponent.

Sorry, Canada, no disrespect, but your guys are an outside shot for any medal at all at this point. Just the way I see it.

Comment Ça Va ?

February 22, 2010
Sad Canadian Hockey Fan

Don't be sad, Canada. You still have better health care than us.

One of the things I was looking forward to after the US upset Canada on Sunday was reading the comment section of the TSN game story. I always like to check in there when there’s any sort of hockey event that does not favor a Canadian perspective and, let’s face it, this one promised to be the motherload. As of this writing there were 354 comments posted ranging from wailing hysteria to bitter second guessing, mindless yahooism and just flat out denial. A sampling for your entertainment.

We’ll start with ptm:

Ok, I don’t know about the rest of you Candadians out there, but, I for one, am absolutely positive that this loss to US will make the Canadian Men’s Hockey team stronger. I KNOW WE WILL WIN THE GOLD MEDAL IN VANCOUVER 2010 IN MEN’S HOCKEY. That is not wishful thinking. The US team will go down from here on in. Stay tuned, it is definitely not over for our Canadian team. For you doubters out there, jump on the bandwagon with the commentators from the game shown on CTV tonight…what a bunch of losers they are. Did anyone else notice that they were right alongside the Americans on this game?? I say to them, shame on you. It ain’t over till it’s over. Watch and see. GO CANADA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think we can safely file that one under denial. Much as I admire your passion, ptm, I think the folks at the home might need to tweak your medication drip.

A bit more of the river in Egypt from BigM13.

People, people, people, calm down. Breathe… Losing this game is not a bad thing. It gives us an extra game to come together as a team. We took some positive steps tonight, carried most of the play, and came an eyelash short of tying it up. This is a process, folks, and Team Canada is right on schedule. I feel bad for the Germans, as I’m afraid they’ll feel the wrath of our frustration in the next game…

Riiiight. Losing this one wasn’t a bad thing even though it resulted in you finishing fifth and facing an apparently superior Russian team on the second night of back-to-back games. It’s a process. Like having to go to a shoot-out to beat Switzerland. Part of the process.

Now for a little bitterness and the predictable Brodeur bashing from the aptly named Sumtingwong.

I knew this was one for the loss column the second I saw Brodeur on the ice. He was shaky every time the puck was near, and I gringed (sic) whenever he went after the puck. He was a good goalie from a bygone era where interference penalties were not called. Which doesn’t cut it for this level of play. He doesn’t strike me as a team-first kind of player (more interested in personal records) so I don’t think this will be his last year in the NHL. Even though it should be. I would hope he has played his last Olympics though. It’s been years since Brodeur carried a team, please Babcock, don’t waste Canada’s chances because of nostalgia.

Oh, of course, it was all Martin Brodeur’s fault, I’m sure. It’s just a sense of sappy nostalgia for days gone by that caused Babcock to play him in this game. He’s over the hill completely. Nevermind his 34 wins, 7 shutouts, GAA of 2.32 and saves percentage of .915 he’s posted while leading the New Jersey Devils to second place overall in the Eastern Conference, 4th best point total in the NHL this sason. Forget all that because he misplayed a clearing attempt and it ended up in his net.

Listen up, shmucko. Ken Dryden on his best day would not have won that game for you. If you think Luongo would have been the difference, you need to maybe think about switching over to curling as your favourite sport. Your posts are making me gringe.

Of course, Hedghog44 wants to back up your scapegoating.

Brodeur has never been the reason his team has won anything. He has never won a Conn Smythe, wasn’t spectacular in 2002, flamed out in 2006 and sucked tonight. He has to go.

Soooo… Marty Brodeur is just an overrated dog turd of a goalie who never would have won a damn thing if he hadn’t played in Jersey? Never mind the Calder, the 4 Vezina’s, the 3 Stanley Cups, countless All-Star appearences and the all time record for shut-outs. Just a fluke of the draft that people continually mention his name in the discussion of the greatest goalies of all time.

Let’s finish off this session with some more groundless optimism, this time from PaulVV.

Are you guys for real? I mean did we watch the same game? 41 seconds in the first shot goes off Crosby’s stick and in. So right away we are off to an unlucky start. Canada hammers them with shots to the tune of 45 to 22. Scoring chances ESPN has it at 23 to 11 for Canada and lets not talk about time in the attacking zone. Lets see….another goal goes off Weber’s skate and in…..mean time…Canada continues to hammer. So how about Canada getting just one bounce…just one…and I think we have a different story then…oh Brodeur this and Miller that. If I were USA I’d work on improving my game because those bounces don’t happen every game and that luck will run out…When it does your skill won’t carry you. You can’t let another team fire 45 shots on your goal and win. I still call Canada to win it all…if they play like tonight!!

This sentiment was a bit prevalent in the posting, actually. It was all lucky bounces that got the US the win. The Canadians outplayed and outworked them but the winds of fate and a crappy old has-been of a goalie did the good guys in. The last line there really says it all. “If we play the way we did on the night of our most humiliating loss in recent memory, we’re going to kick ass!”

Keep owning the podium, eh?

Suck On That, NBC

February 22, 2010

Seriously, guys.

You blew it and you know it.

Whatever genius at NBC it was that decided to move the broadcast of the USA vs. Canada game to MSNBC in favor of another glorious evening of Ice Dancing has got to have a few unpleasant meetings to attend today. There has to be a memo or two on his/her desk this morning from higher up the corporate heirarchy and it’s not going to be about planning the company picnic this spring.

What happened was you completely missed out on showing what is surley to be remembered as one of the most compelling, thrilling, dramatic, intensely played events at the entire 2010 Games. A game for the ages, played with the ferocity of a Stanley Cup Game Seven where every play, every move became a moment of mesmerizing high drama. In the end, there was a monumental upset that uplifted one nation (at least that nation’s hockey fans) and crushed another.

And you fuckers missed it.

The unforgivable thing is, of course, that everyone knew ahead of time that it would be like this. The hype was truly cosmic in scale. It was the event of the games up to this point, as far as the locals were concerned, and you failed to take any of that into account. Just a moronic move considering your network actually carries the NHL itself and could use a little promotion, don’t you think?

Of course, I’m making the mistake of thinking actual journalism or serious sports coverage is a concern for anyone involved with the network broadcast of these games. If it was, they wouldn’t have moved the broadcast of an Event like this.

I guess we, as viewers, need to consider who we’re dealing with here, though. This is the same network that just turned the whole Jay Leno/Conan O’Brian thing into a national media embarrassment. Good luck riding Ol’ Giant Chin right into the ratings cellar, guys. People are going to love his shit, now, aren’t they?

Just a fiasco, the whole thing. Bob Costas, in his seven o’clock open to the NBC broadcast didn’t even mention the fact that there was a hockey game on. Not even, “Oh, and for those of you interested, the United States and Canada are about to play the most dramatic, enthralling game that the 2010 Games have seen so far but to watch it you’ll have to track down MSNBC on your basic cable and watch it in low definition. And now, back to Ice Dancing With The Stars.”

So what are the chances, now, that they’ll jump on this story and start showing some of the upcoming games? Good but they may have missed the boat if this was the high water mark for this US team. There’s no guarantee the US and Canada will meet again in this tournament for a rematch so that ship might have sailed on you.

I could rant on about this but it’s a tired subject, really. In my previous post I lamented the modern network coverage of the Olympics and how it waters down my interest in the games. Nothing new, really. It’s just a shame that this game was missed by so many who could have enjoyed it and had their eyes opened to the sport of hockey by such an event. The names Ryan Miller, Brian Rafalski, Ryan Kesler and Chris Drury should be on the lips of more Americans this morning than just the puck loving enthusiasts who already know who they are.

Instead of the guys who skate in sequins.

Olympic Daydreams

February 16, 2010

Tim Thomas Team USA

Today the Tournament begins. The greatest hockey players on Earth, separated by and assembled into into their respective nationalities, in the Land Where Hockey Was Born, will face off for the right to wear a golden charm declaring them the Best in the World. The prestige, the glory, the epic drama and the world class play. It’s all there in spades. It should be the best possible quality of hockey you’ll see and it only happens every four years.

So why am I stifling a yawn?

I’ll admit it right here and stop wasting your time (the way NBC does with it’s endless “human interest” stories about Olympic athletes). The Olympics bore me, folks, and though I have every intention of watching the Men’s Hockey games, I have to be honest and let you know that the shine has worn off for me. There was a time when the appeal and anticipation of a tournament like this would have made me giddy and restless but now, it seems, those days are gone. I remember the sublime thrill of the 1996 World Cup and debut of NHL players in the Olympics in 1998 with extreme fondness. International hockey became a must see event in my mind, the greatest of the great in assemblage to square off with everything on the line. Monumental stuff.

So why has it faded so much for me?

Well, as I try to analyze it, I come up with a couple of key factors that seem to affect the way I view things these days. I think it’s combination of the way the Olympic games in general are produced and packaged for network television, the dislike I tend to have for All-Star Games and the inability of any current contest to ever measure up to the drama and thrills of Times Past, most notably Lake Placid, 1980.

I guess it sounds foolish but what NBC does with the broadcast of the games in general most certainly hurts the hockey tournament in a guilt-by-association kind of fashion. The way things are packaged and doled out, often with the events broadcast pre-recorded instead of live, studded with commercials and wrapped up with incessant sappy stories about the athletes and their families in attempts to bring in a wider audience (i.e. more females. sorry, but it’s the truth) has completely killed whatever interest or importance I once felt for the Olympic Games as a whole. I guess it’s the difference between someone who’s a sports fan versus someone who watches because it’s an “event” but I just want to see competition. Whatever backstory I need can be relayed to me in brief drop-ins from the play-by-play guys or in a short segment in the pre-game broadcast. Any more of that and I feel it takes away from the Sport I’m trying to see and turns things into yet another episode of Extreme Home Makeover.

That the coverage is disgusting and has been for decades should not be news to anyone. I hate having to watch the games through the filter of an network broadcast package. Recorded and shown at their convenience, padded with nonsense, sweet and syrupy as an Eggo waffle soaking in Aunt Jemima’s.

In turn, I also am not a big fan of All-Star games in general. I never feel like games featuring such a collection of talent are any real indication of what the sport is really like and rarely include any of the qualities that draw me to the sport on a regular basis. This is especially true in hockey where the physicality is completely absent from that sort of play. Granted, in International competition, the hitting will be amped up and the higher stakes are going to inspire a more intense play, I still can’t shake the feeling, with so many highly paid stars on the ice for various teams, that I’m watching a sort of exhibition of talent rather than a blood and guts battle like you tend to see when it’s Stanley Cup time.

I’m sorry, I know it’s an honor to play for your team and it means more to others than to some, it just loses some of it’s fire when, for example, guys who are teammates in the NHL are now squaring off with one another on National teams. I mean, just how hard is Zdeno Chara really going to hit Patrice Bergeron when Canada and Slovakia meet up? Does he want to return to Boston as the guy who knocked one of the key centers on his team out for the rest of the season and destroyed the team’s playoff chances? Or is he going to pull up a bit when they go into the corner together? It’s a valid question, folks.

I think, though, despite the nagging issues listed above, there is something much deeper for someone of my generation that, for a very good reason, takes some of the lustre off of today’s games. Something that happened 30 years ago but has embedded itself in the heart and psyche of any American hockey fan alive and aware at the time. You know what I’m talking about of course.


1980 US Olympic Hockey Team

I was 11 years old. Old enough to be aware of what was going on, the momentousness of what I was watching, the political tension in the air. Perhaps it was later in life I truly understood the importance of what had happened but, at some profound level, as I watched it all unfold, as I watched Jim Craig, draped in the American flag searching through the audience for his father, it impacted me like no other sporting even I had ever seen. The effects of that moment are still with me today. Would I have this passion for the game if not for that event in my formative years? Maybe. Maybe not. To say it was inspiring for a Boston kid, with the full knowledge of how many local guys were on that team, is a vast understatement. It hit me like a truck. A glorious, uplifting, emotionally transcendent truck with the letters USA on the front of it and the voice of Al Michaels blazing from a set of loudspeakers mounted on the front grille.

Yes. I believed in Miracles.

Nothing will ever match that.

Not that it’s the fault of the modern Olympics or Team USA or anything they do, really. It’s just that the bar was set high back then and I truly believe that no story will ever be the equal of the faintest shadow of that time. It simply cannot be.

Is that a good reason to dismiss the current games? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s unfair but, for me, that’s the way it is. Today’s games featuring The USA versus Switzerland, Team Canada versus Norway or Russia versus Latvia just don’t hold much appeal, regrettably.

Like I said, I’ll watch a lot of the key Men’s games. USA, Canada, Russia, Finland, Sweden. Maybe even some of the Women’s (though Team Canada’s recent 18-0 trouncing of Slovakia makes it difficult to take some of those match-ups too seriously). I’ll probably see some fantastic hockey. I’ll see Alex Ovechkin and Sydney Crosby at their best. I’ll see the best goalies in the world. I’ll get to see my countrymen battle in an underdog role once again. It should be a certain measure of fun, for sure.

But it won’t measure up. I think I’m ready for the amateurs to return, quite honestly. Keep the NHL’ers in the NHL where they belong, battling it out for a different sort of hardware. It may help bring back some of the charm and interest the games once held for folks like me.

Until then, here’s to the Closing Ceremonies and Regularly Scheduled Programming.

Jack Edwards Haiku

February 12, 2010

A new ongoing feature where we take some recent commentary from the Boston Bruins’ ever excitable play-by-play man Jack Edwards and turn it into poetry.

This, now, from last night’s dramatic 5-4 victory over the Lightning in Tampa, in a rough approximation of Japanese haiku.

    now Chara’s gonna go
    he’s just about sick and tired
    of this little punk

    oh, man, the big guy’s just unloading
    ha ha, Downie says where am I
    mommy help

I know.

You can barley read the rest of this because your eyes have filled with water. Jack can have that effect on you.

The sequence it was taken from can be found here.

Give One Take One

February 10, 2010

Colton Orr has never been afraid to stand there and chuck ’em with the heaviest of the heavies in the NHL. A feared puncher that could never be accused of defensive fighting, he’s certainly won his share of fights, more than he’s lost I’d say.

That said, here’s a couple of recent examples of what can happen when you go all out like he does.

I guess turnabout is fair play, as they say. Orr is a tough bastard, no doubt, and he fights by the code. Knocking a guy out or being knocked out isn’t going to change the guy one bit. There’s a part of me that has always wished the Bruins never gave up on the guy, honestly.

Because that, folks, is entertainment.