A Bad Ping – Pong Contest

Bye Bye Ovie ...

The Lightning removed the Washington Capitals in four games and looked very good in the process. Ditto for the Boston Bruins as they orchestrated a golfing match for the Philadelphia Flyers.Two teams at the top of their games meeting for a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup. What the heck happened ?

What the fans have witnessed the past six games is

Boucher , Leighton or Bob ?

anyone’s guess. At times there has been top goaltending by both teams followed closely by bad goaltending by both teams. Quick offence has also been tossed around and then at times – offence became offensive. Instead of hockey fans getting Muhammed Ali and Mike Tyson at the top of their game – what they are witnessing is a current Ali fighting George Foreman ‘ s barbeque grill.

What game plan ?

At the beginning of the battle of “B” ‘s – coach Boucher and coach Julien may have had a plan.

Julien’s squad held an edge over the Bolts” defence and Tim Thomas was beyond Roloson in talent – not age. Tampa ‘s Lecavalier , Stamkos and St. Louis had to be stopped and the oddsmakers in Vegas bet firmly on Thomas et al to be the ones that could do it. Suddenly , Tampa is scoring at will and guess what ? So are the Bruins …

Bruins Defence - D is for doormat

Back and forth the two teams travel like a wayward Kerouac without a boxcar. Two zip for Tampa and the Bruins are done. Flip it and the results are the same. Any lead in this series is as dainty as a tea cup on Lady Gaga’s piano.What is the reason for the scariness when it comes to defence. Where on earth is Jacques Martin”s philosophy that pushed the Bruins to the brink. Guy Boucher probably figures – if it did not work for Montreal , why do it ?

Julien on the other hand is probably going out of his mind. A defensive guy if there ever was one – Claude would be on his way out if he was coaching in New Jersey or Montreal. The only thing that will save his job for next season , regardless of a Stanley Cup final and / or win , is Boston’s venture into waters unknown. The Bruins have been in the doldrums almost as long as the Leafs. To come this far and then fire Julien for his inablity to corral his troops and stop the Lightning scoring would be like punishing Livingston for discovering Lake Alexandria in Africa.

It is not in the bag ...for either team !

Sanity Will Prevail

This is it.

Michael Jackson is dead and whoever wins tonight’s game goes on to the finals. The loser will not live on in infamy through video releases or compilation CD ‘s. There will be no memorial for the team that dies tonight.That is why – ‘old fashioned hockey’  will be declared fit enough to play against the Vancouver Canucks.

Back and forth , up and down and firewagon puck chasing cannot be deployed in such a game. There is too much at risk. If the dykes are opened as they were in the teams’ last game – one never knows what garbage will come in with the water.Ask the San Jose Sharks. They have tales of bad bounces that would make Craig McTavish don a helmet. Don Cherry was at a loss for words as Vancouver ‘s stanchion beat the Sharks. Llike Cherry’s clothes – it wasn’t very pretty.

Tonight’s the Night ( gonna be allright )

Ce soir it is Korea against Japan in the biggest ping – pong game seen at the pretend Gah-den since 1972. If the teams’ are smart – they will hit the ball with force and accuracy towards their opponent.If they see an opening , a chance to ‘ score ‘ a point – go for it and see what happens. There are sixty minutes to be played and patience is a virtue . Losing a game 2 -1 giving up twenty shots is a big difference from losing 2-1 while leaving your opponent fifty shots.

Goaltending and talented scorers should decide game seven.

Stanchions are for concussions …


Can’ t Anyone Coach This Game ?

Where is my Pee – Wee coach when I need him … ?

Pee - Wee Hockey

It makes no sense to me that teams that are worth millions of dollars and  employ hundreds of scouts – cannot get this goalie idea down pat. First there were the Flyers , bless their Pelle Lindbergh hearts …

They built a squad that had everything a Stanley Cup contender could have ; big forwards , big defence and talent to boot. Instead of looking back and checking their rear view mirrors and ensuring their trunks were closed , they carried forward and assumed that Bobrovsky held the metal door closed tightly.The team sped down the hockey highway and after reaching mile number 70 – the trunk , along with their rookie goalie , commenced bobbing and weaving a little too much.

Did the team stop , pull over and tighten the screws ? Did they give the young stopper a good talking to and boast his moral ? Probably not. Instead , as the season closed and the team sagged into the playoff wars – a never ending trilogy of padded ones entered the mix and one by one , game by game – the Flyers disintegrated to the golf course.

If the team had of stuck with Bobrovski , through thick and thin , it would have at the very least , given the team stability. Forwards and defencemen alike enjoy peeking backwards and witnessing the same masked character night after night. In the ever – changing game of hockey , sometimes things do not go a team’s way. Pucks hit refs, rebound off of posts and often – all a player can do is attempt to gain control in any way possible.The last thing a player needs is to see his team’s final stronghold as a revolving door. It is not much different than a family man becoming distracted at work because his wife is fooling around or one of his kids is experiencing drug problems.It is hard to concentrate on cutting the lawn if the living room is on fire.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are doing the same thing.

Dude ...? Whatcha doin' ?

They are more talented than the Boston Bruins. They have more experience winning Stanley Cups and they have more experience in general than the Lucic – led goons of Beantown. Why on earth would head coach Boucher commence tinkering with his goalie at this time of the season ? Dwayne Roloson had a bad game and a half. So what. Everyone has a bad day at the office now and again. By removing Roloson and putting Smith into the fray , Boucher has offset the machine that at one point was on an eight game winning streak. A sequence that would not have happened without Tampa’s best move at the trading deadline – the acquisition of Rolson.

Tampa had the momentum. They were speeding down the highway at full speed after game four. They passed the Flyers a while back , waving at the young Bobvrosky as he sat on the side of the road with a compass pointing towards the AHL. Although Roloson will not be heading to the minors anytime soon – it is not a good idea to leave him for a minute with the Flyers’ netminder.

Roloson should be sitting on top of the trunk of the Lightning’s Stanley Cup vehicle. Some clothes, tools or perhaps the family pet will be bounced onto the pavement along the way . Noone said the trip to the finals and a championship would be easy.

My Pee -Wee coach is still looking for his glasses that fell out years ago. That is why he keeps his championship trophies close by …

The Final Four

It has come down to this.

One original six , two post – post expansions , one expansion and a partridge in a pear tree …

Okay , forget the pear tree. That is of course if Zdeno Chara is not toting fruits in his enormous wing span as he waves his arms as if to say ” What the f**k guys …?”

After a grueling eighty – two game schedule , two rounds of revenue generating / highly entertaining playoff rounds and a few non- suspensions ; we are down to four teams. A hockey foursome . A quartet that is making hockey fans sing a happy song as they line the route to the holy grail. The Stanley Cup.

In the East we have the number three seeded Boston Bruins taking on the Habs of the South , the fifth seed – Tampa Bay Lightning. Although the east cannot boast the top two seeds as the west does with the Vancouver Canucks (1) pitted against The Sharks of San Jose (2) , the East does offer the best of both worlds .

In Gary Bettman’s perfect orb  – the east would have given the fans the number one seeded Washington Capitals against the second seed Philadelphia Flyers. Alas , as the man in charge of discipline , Colin Campbell ,  has proved time and again – this is not a perfect world. The Caps demonstrated for the second straight year  ‘choking’ is the weapon of choice in their suicidal ways while the Flyers provided a clinic on either bad goaltending or management – take your pick .

Which leaves the fans with a pleasant surprise ...

The Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning  Bolts

If the powers that run the hockey universe had provided Philly and Washington in the eastern final , what the fan would have witnessed was a feeling of deja – vu all over again. And again …

Face it.

East is east and west is west and the average fan never forgets.

Did lightning strike Ronald Corey ?

The west is free wheeling , all out hockey with bumps and bruises thrown into the mix. Hard hits an afterthought to the way that Mormons would have the game played. The east, on the other glove , is the polar opposite. ‘Bang’ ,’ crash’ and ‘pow ‘ are the speech bubbles first with a little hockey tossed onto the ice for good measure. ” I went to a Justin Bieber concert and Megadeth broke out ” is the terminology that describes the eastern conference .

Except in the case of Tampa Bay

The Montreal Canadiens ‘ fans were used to watching the ‘ flyin’ frenchmen’ for many Stanley Cup winning seasons in La Belle Province. That was until the frenchmen ceased not only flyin’ on Montreal ice – for the most part , ceased becoming high drafted players. The ones who were , decided that high taxes and media scrutiny was not for them. They avoided Montreal for many seasons and Montreal fans , void of excitement and Guy Lafleur ,  decided to move south to Florida in lieu of witnessing the ‘cement skaters ‘ and ten dollar hot dogs that greeted their two hundred dollar handshake. Well , guess what ?

The flyin’ frenchmen of the skating kind and those that enjoy teaching the high flyin’ game , have joined the speedo – wearing francophone fans in Tampa . Boy is it fun … !

The Lightning are a breath of fast air in a division that glorifies mustiness. It is as if the Tampa squad opened a window into an eastern attic that had been sealed for many years. Sure there have been cracks. Holes by the names of Crosby, Malkin , Ovechkin and Lemieux have let a welcome draft of speed and talent into the too – close – for – comfort room once in a while. Yet , even when New Jersey was winning the sporting world ‘ s best trophy award – it wasn’t pretty in the dark world of the east.

The Big Bad WolfBruins

Finesse - Boston Style

Les Bruins de Boston or Les ‘ Maudits Tabernacs Esti Colis ‘ as they are affectionately known in Montreal , have pounded there way into the eastern finals the old fashioned way.

They have hit , they have fought and they have gooned it up. In the words of Jim Carr – the Charleston Chiefs’ play-by-play man in the movie Slapshot ;

” The fans are standing up to them! The peanut vendor is standing up to them! And by gosh if I were down there, I’d be standing up to them!

This is what makes the east final so much fun ! Tampa Bay with their creative , high – flyin’ style , do not have to stand up to the Bruins . Not with their fists anyways …

The series is Gretzky against Probert. Lafleur battling Stan Jonathan. The Rocket against himself ! It is speed against braun. Sticks against shots. Finesse matched against the thuggery that has symbolized the Bruins for almost a century. After winning a flimsy five Stanley Cups in their long history , it puzzles the most ardent cross-word solver why the Bruins continue their losing ways.

Flyers – An Example

Boston should look into the history mirror and reflect on the case of the 1975 – 76 Philadelphia Flyers. That team had won two Stanley Cups and made Boston’s cruel and unusual punishment seem lady-like in the process.

We ain’ t hockey players we’ re clowns, goons, we’ re freaks in a side show, we should be in jail.

– coach Dunlop  Shero

They were vying for their third straight championship and came upon the highly skilled Montreal Canadiens. Four straight photos representing the Stanley Cup winning Canadiens ensued and after all these years – the Bruins have still not received their copies in the mail.( Rumor has it that Don Cherry did accept them but filed them away under ‘S’ for stupid ).

This season , as every season since 1971 – 72 , the Bruins have a mixture of talent with thugs. This season , as every season since 1971-72 , the Bruins best scorers become the thugs when push comes to Bobby Orr. Cam Neely and Raymond Bourque. Two of the best hockey players to play the game have the same thing in common with Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic – two of the best players that are currently playing the game. They cannot stand to lose and when they do – it ain’t pretty !

Doh ! We' re in the finals !

Tampa Bay is coached by a young Francophone by the name of Guy Boucher. He has been schooled in psychology. It does not take a psychologist to teach a team to ‘ skate ‘ away from the school bullies. If his team – the Bolts of Tampa listen , the eastern division final will be over faster than a Lightning cheerleader can spell out  ‘ Lecavalier , St. Louis and Stamkos.’ If they listen – the players in Tampa will be laughing all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.

Once there – the skaters can ask Don Cherry to send the Stanley Cup photos to Can Neely as he is left sitting in the press box. Yes . It has come down to this …

Tampa Bay in six !

Reggie: We all know how to play the game–just go out and play it smart!
Hanson #1: That’s right, get out there and stick ‘im!
Hanson #2: Fuckin’ Christ, pop ‘em!
Hanson #3: That’s what we’re here for guys, to WIN!

Then again – what do I know …

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