Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hoserdome 2009: Playoffs, Day 4

Having six of the seven series at 2-0 seems like a bit of a rip, especially since, as From The Rink notes, teams almost never come back after dropping the first two games in the other guys' barn.
  1. It's a frightening concept, but the Chicago Blackhawks are set to sweep the Calgary Flames because of this thing called "better players." (Glove tap: Michael Schur as Ken Tremendous.)

    It's hard to get your mind wrapped around that after a lifetime of being spoon-fed pabulum about heart and veteran leadership by commentators on Canadian networks, so let it sink in.

    Incidentally, Jonathan Toews for the 2010 Olympic team? Coming Down The Pipe! wants to know.
  2. Patrice Bergeron's takedown of Mike Komisarek was a laugh and a half. You have Komisarek running across the ice like an idiot to take a head shot at a player who's got a history of concussions, getting his ass handed to him and then having NESN's Jack Edwards mine it for head-injury humour: "Concuss that!"

    Brilliant. And people think I'm weird for preferring baseball and basketball to hockey. Then again, I'm a pansy.
  3. Canadian Roberto Luongo, Swede Henrik Lundqvist, American Tim Thomas, Swiss Jonas Hillier and Russian Nikolai Khabibulin have been the best goalies in the post-season, for anyone thinking about Vancouver 2010.
Blackhawks 3 Flames 2 (Chicago leads 2-0) — The good news for Calgary, beyond getting to go home, is they finally scored on the power play after an 0-for-47 drought. The bad news is they were shut out while playing 5-on-5.

By the way, Patrick Sharp, who scored the second Blackhawks goal, played at the University of Vermont. Since fellow UVM product Martin St. Louis is in Tampa Bay, it's rare to see a former Catamount in the playoffs (yes, yes, there's Torrey Mitchell on the San Jose Sharks).

Rogers Sportsnet's Calgary correspondent Roger Millions is off the air for a few days after saying you-know-what on the air. It wasn't a firing offence, since it was a team mistake, but at this rate, the Flames might be done by the time he's back.

Bruins 5 Canadiens 1 (Boston leads 2-0) — The epitaph for a Habs season gone horribly asunder came from a Montreal-aligned friend who said, "The only forward they've got who's any good as Alex Kovalev and I don't want him back next season."

The Bruins likely lose Milan Lucic to a one-game suspension, but that should not hurt much in the long run.

Between Montreal getting skated out of the rink and the New York Yankees getting shelled for 22 runs, there was a run on Haterade on Saturday. The logical explanation is that the Habs overachieved in 2007-08, overplayed their top guys (a condition known as being "Paddock-ed" and didn't have enough in the tank for this season. The fun explanation is that their fans flew to the close to the sun on wings of vote-robots.

Red Wings 4 Blue Jackets 0 (Detroit leads 2-0) — Michigan have its hockey team, but Ohio is first in home foreclosures.

Rangers 1 Capitals 0 (New York leads 2-0) — Apparently, Henrik Lundqvist has decided to spoil the Capitals' season, but just less than one-quarter of the teams which lose the first two games at home actually manage to come back and win.

The thumbnail sketch of the Rangers is that the veterans responded after John Tortorella was brought in as coach. Strangely enough, Ryan Callahan, obviously a grizzled 24-year-old third-year pro, has a team-high 10 goals since the coaching change. That all comes back to veteran leadership.

(Last but not least, a tip of the cap is due to Ian Duval, who scored two goals in the Kelowna Rockets' win over the Vancouver Giants in Game 1 of the WHL semi-final series last night. Duval played triple-A midget hockey for the Central Plains Capitals, based in Portage la Prairie, Man., during two OOLFers' tenure at the Portage Daily Graphic.)


Dennis Prouse said...

Surely to God no reasonable person is trying to advance the argument that geography plays a role in playoff success. I haven't looked at the respective rosters, but I am willing to bet that Calgary and Chicago have teams that are pretty representative of the rest of the league in terms of the number of Canadians, Euros, etc. Toews is as Canadian as you can get, while Jokinen ain't exactly from Red Deer.

sager said...


The question went to experience factor, not nationality. I heard people doubt Chicago for having so many young guys, although the Flames have so many injuries.

Nine of the Hawks' 12 forwards are 25 or younger. Two of the other three, Martin Havlat and Patrick Sharp, are 27.

Here's the breakdown by nationality, if anyoe's curious:

Calgary: 14 Canadians, 4 Americans (Nystrom, Moss, Conroy, Leopold), 2 Europeans (Jokinen, Kiprusoff)

Chicago: 12 Canadians, 3 Americans (Kane, Burish, Byfuglien), 5 Europeans (Khabibulin, Havlat, Hjalmarsson, Huet, Pahlsson).

kinger said...

Bang-on! I loved the story from a Toronto radio host (which one I can't remember) that Calgary had the edge, because if Chicago's ever down at an intermission they'll panic and say "oh my god what are we going to do" (verbatim) while Calgary's "veteran leaders" will be able to settle everyone down. As though you need an old guy to tell you that games don't end after 20 or 40 minutes.

And last I checked the Blackhawks have been the comeback kids for two straight.

I mean, it shouldn't come as any surprise; this is the country that tried to make Gary Roberts the story of Pittsburgh's run to the final.

sager said...

Please keep in mind Kinger that it's the Canadian media. Being lazy, knee-jerk, stupid and self-absorbed are OK — nay, required. All that matters is being likable.

Dennis Prouse said...

Thanks for reminding me about Gary Roberts - I had tried to forget about how ridiculous that all was. Roberts was logging very little ice time and contributing next to nothing, but the media were bound and determinded that he was going to be the story. It was comical.

In fairness, though, Canadian media are hardly alone in this determination to find a storyline at all costs. You get this all the time on NFL broadcasts, where the search for a storyline that will be easily explained to the casual fan trumps everything. I watched a Ravens - Colts game one time where you would swear that Ray Lewis and Peyton Manning were the only two players suiting up. Storylines, though, get ratings, while good solid journalism telling you about offensive line play doesn't.

kinger said...

I understand that from the NFL, but the Blackhawks' legitimate skill surely draws more ratings than "ooh look at all the gruff, slow, bearded Canadians on Calgary!"

DR said...

I'm a long-suffering Hawks fan, and this sort of thing has been going on all year. I can't even count the number of times that Canadian TV/radio hockey experts have declared that either the Flames or Canucks had moved into the "elite group" in the West with the Wings and the Sharks, even though they always had fewer wins and points than the Hawks, who were never included in that group. I think the worst example of ridiculous Hawks-related commentary came on the NHL Network a couple weeks ago when the host and the analyst twisted themselves into knots trying to explain that Chicago's 6-5 (SO) victory over the Sharks should be viewed as a bad sign because giving up a 1 (or 2) goal lead before ultimately beating one of the best teams in the league was somehow a sign of weakness.

sager said...

It's kind of a double whammy involving the nature of beat reporting, journalismisms and hockey logic.

An unintended consequence of beat reporting — and it is true whether it's reporters who cover courts, crime, city hall, school board, state/provincial legislature, a pro sports team — is that they sometimes they take on the viewpoints of their sources. They even start to use the same jargon.

Meantime, as one of the weak-willed lefties at the Washington Post pointed out today ("Why We Should Get Rid of the White House Press Corps," Ana Marie Cox), "the day of a correspondent typical White House correspondent consists, literally, of waiting to be told things." Pack reporting tends to be inevitable.

It works on a smaller scale in sports. The teams have been putting up bigger and bigger walls over the past 20-25 years. The media guys need to show they're inside, that they're authorities. They also tend to produce stories firstly to please sources and please editors. This ties in with what the conservative chickenhawks at Reason pointed out a while back, "It would be more accurate to say that American reporters produce bad journalism because they're shielded from the economics of the business. You can hear a lot of talk in editorial meetings about whether a given topic has news value ... What you won't hear is any consideration of whether anybody on Planet Earth would be interested in reading about it."

In sports, that often leads to coverage which reflects the story the team was OK with being told or wanted told. It's not necessarily a bad thing. Journos are always grateful for the help. It's hard work, especially when you have an 82-game NHL or NBA schedule, or 162-game sked in baseball, to slog through. (I couldn't do it; I get bored too easily.)

In hockey, it's believed you have to have veterans. This sort of calls to mind a post on the Columbus Dispatch's Puck-Rakers blog that noted how the Blue Jackets had their veterans speak during a team meal.

"One by one, the Jackets' playoff veterans stood up and told stories about their postseason experiences. There were no joking around, defensemen Marc Methot said. Each guy was genuine and offered a little something different.

" 'It was good to hear what the guys had to say, I thought it was helpful,' Jackets captain Rick Nash said.

" 'They tried to tell us what to expect,' Methot said. 'It was really low key, but really good.' "
It's kind of like, "We get it. You believe you're in the Stanley Cup final because of all the things Gary Roberts is doing in the dressing room," or, "You think the Chicago Blackhawks will fold up like an accordion because they only have one forward older than 30."

Just as Ana Marie Cox notes most of the big political stories in the U.S. get broken by people not covering the White House (Watergate was a couple guys on the metro beat), the best sports journalism of the past 10 years has often come from people who aren't beat writers.

That's not to slag the people pounding the beats, you need them in there, getting the questions in, being aggressive. That skillset doesn't include being insightful, but in our biz, we expect those people to be.

In other words, it's kind of inevitable in the media. Chuck Klosterman once said journalists have more ethics and less common sense than normal people. Similarly, knowing all this 'inside baseball' does not necessarily foment common sense.

(It's useless to point this out as a meaningless blogger. To avoid being isolated you have to comment on the elements of sports coverage. Commenting on the elements of sports coverage just exacerbates one's isolation.)

kinger said...

That really was more post-worthy than comment-worthy. Bang-on.