Victoria Pattison Denault

Jun 032014
 

Injuries, overtimes, near-goalie fights and sudden death wins. The Eastern and Western 2014 conference finals had more action that an episode of Game of Thrones. Okay maybe that’s a slight exageration… but not by much. Allow me to recap the best and worst of it.

hawks, kings, stanley cup playoffs, nhl, chicago, los angeles

Best Series: Chicago Blackhawks vs Los Angeles Kings

This series had some of the best hockey this entire NHL season has seen. Goals, hits, near goalie fights. And of course, a come-from-behind Game 7 win by the underdog team. It was incredible.

Both teams are so filled with talent that it was even fun to watch their fourth lines battle it out. Plus, on the bench it was like watching Grumpy Cat coach against Yosemite Sam. Pure awesomesauce.

Worst Series: Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers

After such a big, emotional win against the Boston Bruins and an emotionally-disturbed Milan Lucic, this series was bound to feel a little less exciting. But it wasn’t just the energy that lacked, it was the Habs offense. As the games went on, the whole Montreal team began to resemble a deflating balloon. They were done. They weren’t coming back. Add to that two kind of chirpy, whiney head coaches and you’ve got a frustrating series.

new york rangers, nhl, chris kreider, carey price, playoffs, stanley cup

Biggest Jerk: Chris Kreider

Chris “Ice is slippery” Kreider. Jonathan Quick, watch yourself. This professional hockey player can’t seem to stay on his skates near goalies. Rangers fans will tell you he was pushed into Marc-Andre Fleury and Carey Price. Hockey fans know there’s a way to avoid contact and a way not to. If your legs are caught up in a stick, you fall face first, not skates-first, like he did when he ended Carey Price’s playoffs. This guy is making this a habit and it’s not cool. In the end, losing Price wasn’t what caused the Habs to lose the series, but if it happens against the Kings too, this guy better get a suspension.

Biggest Hero: Dustin Tokarski

This kid could have ended up curled up in the back of his net, sucking his thumb and crying for his mother and no one would have blamed him. He’s the back-up’s back-up, fresh from the farm team, and was thrown into the starting goaltender’s role in the Eastern Conference Finals for a team with the most rabid fan base on the planet. But Tokarski rose to the challenge, and in the end, you really couldn’t blame the Habs losses on the goaltending. He was a hero even if his team didn’t advance.

2014 playoffs, stanley cup, nhl, tyler toffoli, marc staal, beards

Best Playoff Beard: Marc Staal

Marc Staal of the New York Rangers proves gingers can do it, and do it well. And by “it” I mean playoff beards of course (get your mind out of the gutter). Unlike Claude Giroux he doesn’t look like a skid row muppet. His ginger facial fuzz is even, fairly full and well groomed.  He’s going to look really good losing the Cup. (Go Kings!)

Worst Playoff Beard: Tyler Toffoli (LA Kings)

Look very, very closely…. Put on your glasses. Pull out a magnifying glass. Blow the picture up as big as possible. No that’s not a caterpillar on his lip, or Cheetos dust on his chin. That’s a beard. I know the kid is like 19 or something so I should cut him a little slack but his attempt at facial makes Sidney Crosby look like a rugged mountain man.

May 182014
 

Round 2 of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs was a barn burner all-round. Every series felt like a legitimate rivalry even though some of these teams, like the Anaheim Ducks and the LA Kings, had never met in the playoffs before. Here’s the best and worst of it.

Brendan Gallagher, Zdeno Chara

Best Series: Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens

Original Six. Longstanding rivals. Good versus evil. These games had everything – the good (Carey Price and PK Subban’s performances), the bad (Thornton spraying Subban with water mid-play), and the ugly (the racist rantings of some Bruins fans). In the end, the intensity elevated the Habs play and seemed to throw the Bruins off their game with their big lines doing much of nothing.

Worst Series: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers

This was bad because for some reason, after being up 3-1 in the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins checked out. For me, the best series are battle right to the end, and this is the only series that wasn’t that. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz and all that undeniable talent were deniable after Game 3. This can’t be laid on their goalie this time. It was disappointing to watch therefore, worst series.

Milan Book

Biggest Loser: Milan Lucic

Lucic wins this award not because his team lost, but because of the way HE lost. His childish, unsportsmanlike antics – spearing guys, being a sore winner taunting the Habs when Bruins won, death threats in the handshake line – make him not just the biggest loser of Round 2 but a life loser in general. Lucic, I’m embarrassed that you’re from Vancouver and even from Canada. You have a lot of growing up to do, punk.

Biggest Hero: PK Subban

I didn’t like this guy until this series. Sure, I never disputed his talent, but I thought he was an overemotional, hot-headed punk. Not anymore. I don’t know exactly when PK Subban became a poised, confident player but the change was noticeable this series again Boston. PK didn’t let the racist taunts, the bully antics of Thornton or the death threats of Lucic throw him off his game. He didn’t escalate it in the media when he honestly had every right to. Instead, he seemed to channel it into improving his already stellar play. His offensive defence was a major factor in the Habs nabbing the series.

beardsR2

Best Beard: Jeff Carter

Blondes aren’t known for thick beards, but Carter grows a Grizzly Adams one in the blink of an eye. And it’s got ginger in it, which is hot. The man is already talented and gorgeous, the thick, full beard just adds to it. Now if only he had more teeth… thanks Duncan Keith.

 Worst Beard – Patrick Kane

Speaking of ginger – Kane’s seems super orange this year. Like he used Sun-In or something. And, yay, it’s fuller than previous years but it’s an unkempt mess. And then there’s the mullet… shudder.

May 022014
 

Round 1 in over. There were sweeps, there were reverse sweeps, there was choking and man, was there a lot of overtime. Here is my breakdown of the best and worst of Round 1 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Reverse Sweeping Bromance.

Reverse Sweeping Bromance.

Best Series: Sharks vs. Kings

Because when you manage to pull off a Reverse Sweep – only the 4th in NHL history, you’ve earned the best series title. To be fair, the competition was steep for this too. The Habs sweeping a Lightning team with Stamkos on it was pretty noteworthy and the nail-biting; Avs and Wild is also worth mentioning with all the OTs. But, Reverse Sweep – and a classic Sharks choke – wins for the best series.

Worst Series: Wings vs. Bruins

Because, other than barely squeaking out a win in Game 1, the Wings didn’t put up much of a fight. Yes the Habs swept Stamkos and his Bolts but that, for me, made the series more exciting because you had a clear dominating force. But Wings… they’re the Wings. They had a reputation to uphold and they didn’t. Even though, on paper, a lot of people didn’t expect them to win, they expected them to do better.

Sweep!

Sweep!

Biggest Heroes: Carey Price and Nino Niederreiter

This could go to a few guys – most of whom are goalies. But I’m calling this one a tie between Carey Price and Nino Niederreiter. Price because, other than a wobbly Game 1, he was solid and shut the door on a high caliber opponent like Stamkos. He was an integral part of the sweep. Niederreiter because of the series-winning OT goal. That series really could have gone either way. Avs, in my opinion, outplayed the Wild in most games. But in the end, all that matters is that Niederreiter goal. Also his name is fun to say.

Biggest Goat: Anders Lindback

Tampa Bay’s back-up goalie is taking the blame for the Bolts getting swept by the Habs. The fact is, as Luongo supporters always remind people, goalies don’t score goals. Lindback might have been a bit shaky but Tampa Bay was outside of the crease. Big time. Offensively, Habs dominated and the Bolts defense was dismal. But let’s just blame the goalie!

Best & Worst Beards

Best & Worst Beards

Worst Playoff Beard: Claude Giroux

I adore him but I have to give this to Claude Giroux. It isn’t the color of the beard – and he actually manages to have a pretty thick, even one unlike Crosby or Toews or Couture. But he seems to let his hair grow with his beard and ends up looking like a Muppet. A scary, skidrow Muppet. Lucky for us, unlucky for him, he can shave again.

Best Playoff Beard: Patrice Bergeron

Patrice Bergeron from Team Canada…. who also, by some sick twist of unfortunate events, plays for that goon squad called the Boston Bruins. He was born to have a beard. It grows in evenly and right now it’s at that perfect length that’s sexy scruff and not untamed mountain man. Of course, its sexiness clashes with the ugly yellow and black uniform but so do all good things in life.

Mar 272014
 
Jeff Vinnick , NHLI via Getty Images

Jeff Vinnick , NHLI via Getty Images

 

Crazy Coach-Off

Forget who will score first or who will get the first penalty – the big moment here is which coach will spaz out first? Both Avs coach Patrick Roy and our John Tortorella are fiery and animated, to say the least. Both could go off like firecrackers if this game gets chippy or a team gets one too many bad calls. So keep your eyes on the bench, people. This could be fun!

In Booth We Trust

I have no idea how it came to this, but apparently David Booth is the Canucks’ best player right now. Followed closely by the man who gave up his looks for us, Zack Kassian. Booth has scored 3 goals in his last two games which leaves me wondering if the other teams have written him off like Canucks fans have so they just don’t bother to pay attention to him much on the ice. Let’s hope the Avs haven’t been reviewing the game tapes from the last couple of Canucks wins and they still think he can only hit the back of a deer and not the back of the net. And since the above picture shows he’s got a bit of a history with the Avs, I predict a Gordie Howe Hat trick for Boothie tonight!

Who Cares?

The Canucks. The Canucks should care about this win very much. A win here – and a Phoenix Coyotes loss to Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils – inches them that much closer to almost getting a playoff spot.

With only two wins in their last six games, the Avs are kind of slumping right now too so, yeah they’d love to stop that slide on us, but if they lose one more (this one) it’s not going to toss them right out of playoffs. They still have enough games to secure their spot (and their subsequent first round exit). So really, Avs, you shouldn’t try too hard tonight. Take it easy and give us just a little more hope to be dashed later on. Thanking you in advance.

Mar 192014
 

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Nashville Predators

Nothing to Lose
Nashville is pretty solidly out of the playoffs. I find this to possibly be their biggest advantage in tonight. Teams with nothing to lose tend to play much better than teams with something to lose. Also I think this game will be scrappy because the Preds are probably bitter and angry that they’ll be missing the playoffs for the second consecutive year (and only the second time since 2003) and the Canucks will be panicky and feisty because they’re desperate. I predict a Sestito fight or two. But Canucks will need to keep their heads (I’m looking at you Kassian and Sestito…) and control the penalties or they’ll lose and lose big.

Death By Slap Shot
Shea Weber is a man I love for 2 weeks every 4 years. Because that’s when his ability to kill a man with a slap shot works in my favor because he’s doing it for his/my Country. Tonight he’s my enemy and so is Torts’ blocking shots strategy because it’s the worst possible thing to do when Weber’s the one taking them. The last thing we need is another broken foot or jaw to deal with. So the strategy should be just to keep them from getting the shots.  Own the puck and keep them out of our zone. This should help Lack who has been struggling and letting in softies.

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Goalie Scorned
Pekka Rinne was pulled in his last game against Edmonton, where Preds lost 5-1. This could be seen as a something that will squelch his confidence tonight however, Rinne isn’t a rookie. More than likely that embarrassing loss will spark a fire in him and he’ll have something to prove against us. Plus, let’s be honest, we’re not a goalie’s worst nightmare anymore. Even if Rinne wasn’t angry and looking to avenge his last performance, he’d still be a challenge to our struggling offense.

The Bright Side
Burrows is back – you know that guy who scores a lot? Thank the Hockey Gods for that. If he can stay hot we’ve got a good chance. Edler’s been playing better and Bieksa’s been solid. Add to that Jensen’s solid play and goal-scoring efforts -he’s had 2 goals and one assist in his last 3 games –and we have a glimmer of hope.

Mar 112014
 

titanic-canucks

Do you have your life vests on, Canucks fans? If not, grab a door floating in the choppy waters and hope for the best! Because the Canucks are sinking.

We’ve known this for a while now, haven’t we? With every trade GM Mike Gillis made in recent years the return seemed to be less and less, at least it seemed to me anyway. It was like, when the Canucks ship started leaking, Gillis started trading giant buckets for teacups. David Booth? Well that didn’t quite go as planned. Keith Ballard? He didn’t get to reach hipcheck greatness because that’s hard to do from the press box. Zack Kassian? Those flashes of potential haven’t sparked into what we were told they would. And then away went our “number one goalie” Cory Schneider. And then away went our old… I mean new number one goalie. And now the sweetest Swedish kid in the league with a smile brighter than the sun is drowning, locked in the third class cabin as the Titanic that is the 2013/2014 Vancouver Canucks goes down.

So let’s first talk about Lack. What angered me the most last night about the Canucks’ third period meltdown is the way a few fans hung the whole thing on the newly-appointed, unexpected starter. And when the attacks were coming from the same people who continuously defended every single goal Roberto Luongo ever let in… well, it’s a miracle I didn’t punch my Twitter timeline in the face. You know why you should have apathy for Lack even more so than you did for Luongo? Because Lack is a rookie. Lack didn’t have a so-called outstanding record on another NHL team before he landed the #1 spot. Lack also isn’t making MILLIONS of dollars. Luongo was making $6.71 million a year. Lack makes $850,000. Also Lu came into Vancouver as the starter. Lack was supposed to be in the clearly defined back-up role this year. Schneider was declared the number one guy last year. Lu was supposed to be traded. Then Gillis traded Schneider and re-crowned Lu, and we all thought we know what was what. Even I accepted what I considered the biggest mistake this franchise had made, and jumped on the Luuuuu bus. Then Gillis gave Luongo to Florida. This isn’t supposed to happen to Eddie Lack yet. So with all due respect, Luongo-mourners, STFU and blame the right person for this mess – Mike Gillis. Not Eddie Lack.

As for John Tortorella, I think we all agree he’s a failed experiment. But I doubt there’s a single thing we can do about it until the season – and playoffs – are lost. Then, just like Rose did to Jack, we can unhinge Torts’ fingers from the reminants of the Canucks and watch him drift to the bottom of the ocean… or into a commentator position for NBC.

Let’s get some things straight, fellow Canucks fans, since we’re going to be treading water with each other for a while – and fighting for space in lifeboats – can you please stop whining that “real fans” don’t “attack” their team. Because, well, it’s not true. The Montreal Canadiens have arguably the most passionate and dedicated fan base in the league and yet, they boo their players on a regular basis. They don’t have to be in a long-term slide, they will boo the Habs after one bad game in a solid season. When things got really rough in the late ‘90s, they stopped buying tickets. Yes, the great Habs, an Original Six franchise, winners of 24 Stanley Cups, had low tickets sales. Canadiens fans expect nothing less than the best.

If fans truly do make a difference in the motivation and playing ability of a team (I don’t think we do, but some of you think it) then complaining and getting angry at your team isn’t a bad thing. In my opinion, if you keep dumping money on them for expensive tickets and merchandise when they drop 7 goals in 1 period, you’re part of the problem.  Why would the Aquilinis change anything if they’re still making giant bank? They won’t. The biggest reason an owner wants to win a Stanley Cup is because it increases sales. So then it makes sense that an owner would feel more pressure to make huge, sweeping changes if the see their revenues decreasing.

And please keep in mind there is a difference between expressing your discontent and giving up all together. I will still watch the Canucks on TV, when I can, without making it the priority it used to be. I will still hope for a miracle. I still want them to win. Most of the angry and vocal fans feel the same way. But we know better than to follow them blindly and sink with the ship. This is not something that can be fixed with hugs, people. The Canucks need an overhaul, not lifeboats.

Feb 232014
 
Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune.

Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune.

I’m overflowing with emotion.  This simple game with two sticks, a net, a round rubber disc and some ice can fill my heart with joy or break it so easily it’s breathtaking. And today it filled my heart with joy – and gold.

  • I kept calling them the “Soft Swedes” because in my opinion most of these guys aren’t incredibly physical on their NHL teams. But apparently playing for your country brings out the hip check in you. According to NBC before the game Babcock showed Team Canada a picture of Alfredsson hitting a player and said, “When does he do that? Never. I’m his coach.” And in my opinion the Swedes were more physical than us. But we didn’t need to be physical. We needed to be smart and in control – and we were. I feel bad for Lundqvist because he was doing his best possible and his team did nothing to help him out.
  • Apparently, Nicklas Backstrom was banned for using an illegal allergy medication. If that’s true, it’s really sad. How hard is it to make sure these guys know what they can and can’t take? I don’t think he would have made a big enough difference for the Swedish team  to change the outcome but still, it’s unfortunate.
  • If you’re whining that a player from your favorite NHL team didn’t get ice time in the final game, you’re missing the point. It’s not about your local team. It’s about your NATIONAL team. PK Subban, Dan Hamhuis, Roberto Luongo, all did something to help get us this far. They earned their medals and it shouldn’t matter at what point they touched the ice. Now shut up and enjoy the gold and respect the choices that got us here.
  • Is anyone else sad that now these guys are going to have to go back to being ‘enemies’? I’m sad that I’m going to have to go back to hating Patrice Bergeron and cursing Jonathan Toews. But how great is it to see them all together, arms around each other, singing the national anthem? Just last season, Duncan Keith knocked out Jeff Carter’s teeth and today they’re hugging on the ice. All for the love of our great country. I’m tearing up, you guys…
  • I’m not going to lie; it’s not easy being a Canadian in America during the Olympics. I miss CBC coverage and even Don Cherry. I was cheering in my apartment at 4 a.m. and not hearing a bunch of other people in the neighbourhood cheering too. I can’t go dance in the street… well, I can but they might call the cops or immigration. But the victory is still sweet my friends. No matter where you live hold your head up high and wave that Maple Leaf. I’ll be at the beach in Malibu today and I’ll be wearing my Team Canada T-shirt. I hope you are rocking the red, white and GOLD no matter where you are too!

Where are you going to celebrate? What was your favorite moment of the tournament? Tell us!

Feb 212014
 

Josh Hanner/NY Times

Josh Hanner/NY Times


Every team is going to have a game where they struggle. Every team will have to face a red-hot goalie at some point. We had the fortune of having the shaky game against Norway and the red-hot goalie with Latvia, who had little else to stop us. The USA had the misfortune of having a shaky game and the red-hot goalie in the same game – our game.

  • I just want to say to the USA fans blaming Quick, you’re the reason the world thinks Americans are stupid.  If it wasn’t for Quick you’d have lost that game 5-0. The end.
  • Kunitz is the 2014 reincarnation of the 2012 Mason Raymond. He couldn’t score if the net was empty and the size of a barn.  But damn he just never stops trying.
  • Jonathan Toews is the most amazing puck handler I have ever seen. No he hasn’t scored in this tourney but he is winning face offs and stealing pucks and controlling and setting up plays. He’s been insanely good.
  • Remember that time everyone, including me, thought our weakest link was goaltending? Ha! We must have been drunk. Luongo has a shut out. Price has a shutout – against the United States of America. To quote a certain gold medal goalie with the twitter handle Strombone1;  “Jesus Price!” Now someone please replace Lundqvist’s equipment with his NYR equipment from the beginning of the season (the stuff he couldn’t play in to save his life). I’ll buy you a beer if you do!

Guys… we’re going to the gold medal final! Again. But the end of the day Sunday our Canuck Dan Hamhuis will have an Olympic medal. Roberto Luongo will be a 2-time medalists. The color is the only thing left to fight for. Fight hard boys! We love ya no matter what but fight hard!

Predictions anyone? Tell us!

Feb 192014
 
Jean Levac/PostMedia News

Jean Levac/PostMedia News

I’m still shaking as I write this. Dear Hockey Gods we almost lost to Latvia. LATVIA?!

  • Major props goes to the Latvian goalie Kristers Gudlevskis. Insane play. Insane effort. Insane heart.
  • @MaltbyMVP tweeted “This isn’t Canada sucking. This is Latvia playing their heart out. You’re an idiot if you think otherwise.” And he’s 100% right. 57 shots on goal is Canada playing well. 54 blocked shots and saves is Latvia and their goalie doing everything possible to pull off a miracle. And 1 shot attempt not hitting the net was just Latvia cheating and the Refs missing it. No other way to look at one of their players, not the goalie, swiping the puck out of the crease as it starts to trickle past the line. But that just put Karma in a Team Canada jersey so in the end, it worked in our favor.
  • Hey Luongo Homers, are you finally going to give Carey Price some credit? I am not a Price fan. I am not a Luongo fan. To be honest, I thought that after game 2 Luongo should have been the one to keep getting the starts. But Babcock thought otherwise and Babcock knows what he’s doing. Today proved it. Price kept us in this. If you can’t give him that then you’re truly letting emotion (for Luongo) override hockey smarts and common sense. Now should Price start against America? I guess so if only because the US’s strongest weapon right now might be Phil Kessel and Price has faced him more. But that said, Lu beat the US team once… barely, but it was an important win.  To be honest I don’t have 100% confidence in either Lu or Price in against the USA. Do you? If so, which one and why?
  • Paging the Top Forwards in the World! Please proceed to the net – and put the puck in it!  We absolutely have to start finding a way to score more. Like I said, this almost-loss wasn’t that we weren’t trying. But I personally feel we haven’t scored enough in any of our wins except Austria. We need to see goals from Perry, Toews, St. Louis and Crosby. And more from Getzlaf and Carter. And have Weber and Doughty keep doing what they’re doing. Then and probably only then are we going to be able to beat the USA in regulation. It seems like a lot of “If Onlys” but hello, these are truly the best forwards in the world. If they can’t do it (all at once) who can? And it’s now or never Team Canada. Truly. No exaggeration. It is now or never.

So do you have a prediction for USA-Canada? What do you think the score will be? Tell us!

And where are you watching? This Canadian has taken Friday off work and will be screaming/cheering her lungs out from her West Hollywood apartment. How about you?

Feb 162014
 

Drew Doughty scored 3 goals in his last 28 games for the Los Angeles Kings. He’s had 3 goals in 3 games for Team Canada. Clearly he was conserving his abilities for the Olympics and as a Canadian, I’m okay with that. But I’m pretty sure the popping sound I’m hearing around LA today is Kings’ fans heads exploding.

Subban should be dropped in and Vlasic pulled out. Or Bouwmeester. I am not a PK Subban fan. I wasn’t even sure I wanted him on Team Canada because his attitude and his preference to play a bit dirty and arrogant isn’t an Olympic asset. But he was tight and controlled in his one game and played smart. He was noticeable in a good way unlike Bouwmeester and Vlasic today. Bouwmeester was unnoticeable and Vlasic was noticed for ridiculousness and sloppiness.

So now it’s the Swiss, who we had to beat in a shootout last time so no one better think this is an easy ride. The easier ride would have been if we won in regulation. However maybe we’ll face Latvia. I count no one out because it’s the Olympic and crazy things can happen.

Also, since we’re on the topic of the Swiss, you know who won that shootout in 2010? Sidney Crosby. For those who forgot, he did do more than that very last goal of the games. I feel the need to bring this up because the “Sid sucks’ tweets have already begun. There is no Country in the world that doesn’t know he’s the best in the world so, as Finland did so well, they are all going to make a point of shutting him down. And we should be ok with that because while they’re concentrating on Sid we have Toews, Doughty, Carter, Tavares and every other second and third and fourth best player in the world to score instead of Crosby. Remember that.

I heard on twitter (so it must be true and I’m too lazy to Google it) no undefeated team has ever won gold. Every men’s hockey gold medal has been won by a team that has lost a game along the way. Does that worry you? The way I see it is, That said, if a Country is going to buck a hockey trend, what better Country to do it than Canada?

Who sits the next one? I say it’s got be Vlasic and Kunitz.

Who is in net? I don’t care either way because Price and Luongo are both playing solid but I will say this. I think we need to start solidifying stuff and the goalie is where we should start.

Tell us your thoughts on who gets the net, who gets scratched and what we need to do to be the first team to go undefeated and win gold?

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