Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
Let's face it: no one likes a bandwagon fan. They're obnoxious, they're highly visible in their brand-new still-has-the-hanger-marks jersey, and they don't know a damn thing about the team you've lived and died with every day since the beginning of training camp.
Worse, they hurt your shot at scoring playoff tickets.
For example, I live in the Boston area. As you can imagine, the entire region is crawling with people rocking brand new Black and Gold shirts, all of whom wore exclusively green this time last year. They know who Milan Lucic(notes) is ("LOOCH IS A MONSTAH" and all) but beyond that, there's not much in the way of actual knowledge of the team or sport. It is rather frustrating.
Next time you (and you being "the person in your circle of friends that knows the most about hockey," which you undoubtedly are) get asked about a certain player on the new bandwagon sensation, why not just lie so the bandwagoner looks stupid? Here are some helpful starter lies which, when regurgitated, will show them for what they really are ...
Anaheim: "Why yes, Chris Pronger(notes) is among the most beloved players in the NHL."
"Corey Perry's nickname around the league is ‘Gentleman Corey.'"
"Teams are always jealous of Ryan Getzlaf's(notes) beautiful head of hair."
(Coming Up: The unstoppable Ryan Getzlaf; where the hell Marian Hossa(notes) and Pavel Datsyuk(notes) have disappeared to; the Washington Post's brilliant yet flawed Donald Brashear(notes) story; an outlandish proposal on how to fix the Calgary Flames; and why you're either a Luongo save guy or a Varlamov save guy.)
Carolina: "Erik Cole is unstoppable in the playoffs."
Chicago: "They'd be in a lot of trouble if they didn't have a shutdown defenseman like Brian Campbell(notes)."
"They really need to get the puck to Troy Brouwer(notes) more often."
"I can't think of a more overrated player on this team than Jonathan Toews(notes)."
Pittsburgh: "It would be nice if Eric Godard(notes) got more ice time."
"Yeah, Mark Eaton(notes) is one of the best offensive defensemen in hockey."
"The power play is so much weaker with Sergei Gonchar(notes) quarterbacking it."
Vancouver: "Kyle Wellwood could really take his game to the next level if he just put on a few more pounds."
"This team is going to be so much better off without the Sedins."
"Fans around here hate Luongo. That's why they boo him every time he makes a save."
Washington: "Alex Ovechkin needs to think pass first."
"Jose Theodore would do a much better job than this Varlamov kid. I've never even heard of him."
"I've seen better offensive defensemen than Mike Green(notes)."
Hopefully this outs these band-wagoning ticket hogs for what they are.
What We Learned
(WWL will, for the remainder of the postseason, only cover the teams still playing hockey. Any news of note involving the other teams will be dealt with below in Loserwatch '09.)
With Getzlaf, Franzen said, "We have to stay close to him and bump into him as much as possible. Don't give him any time because when he has time he always makes a good play."
"Getzy is up around 26 minutes sometimes, so we can't play one line against them, that's too much," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "So we'll play Pav or Z against them, doesn't matter as much."
How'd that work out? He figured into all three of Anaheim's goals in regulation. He's got five points in two games against Detroit now. And he had eight points in six games against the Sharks. He's been absolutely dominant for Anaheim and he actually seems to be getting better as the postseason progresses. Bad news for the Wings and anyone else the Ducks play down the road. Kid's pretty good at hockey.
Boston Bruins: That might have been the worst performance out of the Bruins in a month and a half. They showed no urgency in the first, no focus in the second, and no finish in the third. And, as it turns out, only playing like 25 minutes of convincing hockey is not a recipe for success.
"We need to have a 60-minute game... we need more consistency; play more consistent," said Chara. "Obviously, (goaltender Cam) Ward played well for them, but we need to find a way to score goals."
After starting the playoffs with five straight dominating efforts, the Bruins appeared to take their foot off the accelerator in the second period and Carolina made them pay. The Hurricanes struck for two goals and Ward made 36 stops overall to make it stand up.
The Bruins' problems were myriad. They must have turned the puck over in their own zone a good billion times. The power play was several distinct kinds of awful. The transition was so slow it appeared to be running backwards. And then the few times they looked even remotely threatening in attack, Cam Ward(notes) was more than up for it. That ain't gonna win ya too many games.
Carolina Hurricanes: Seriously, how big was Ward last night? Now granted, the Bruins really only turned it on when they got all that power play time at the end of the third period, but if Ward had conceded a goal to cut the deficit to one with anything more than 12 seconds to go, you gotta think Boston would've made a strong run at tying the game up (and imagine the bitching from down in Raleigh about that no-goal then!). But Killa Cam was awesome, particularly here:
Golly. I don't know how he followed the puck in that scrum, but wow. He totally earned that shutout. And going to Carolina down 2-0 would've been a bad situation for the 'Canes. No need to worry now though, I guess.
Chicago Blackhawks: The Blackhawks' power play has been quietly outstanding in the playoffs. It's not like they've made it look pretty or dominant, but hey, they've scored a power play goal in seven straight games and are 9 for 35 (25.7 percent) in the postseason so far. Not bad at all.
"The last part of the season we kept trying different things and different personnel to get it going," Quenneville said. "In the Calgary [quarterfinals] series we tried some different things and we got some production there.
"We've got some different looks. We've got some guys who can make plays. Usually it's a byproduct of when it's not working that we try different people."
He must think it's not working most of the time. Seven different guys (Patrick Kane(notes), Patrick Sharp(notes), Sami Pahlsson, Brian Campbell, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook(notes) and Kris Versteeg(notes)) have scored on the power play in Chicago's eight playoff games.
Detroit Red Wings: Gotta wonder what's happened to Pavel Datsyuk and Marian Hossa.
Neither man has a goal this series. Each has scored on just one night of the playoffs so far: and we're in the second round. Hockey is about many things, that's true, and you contribute many ways, that's true. But they keep score by goals. And sooner or later, your stars must light it up if you want that ring.
But Datsyuk isn't even contributing in the non-scoring ways you'd expect of him. In yesterday's game, he had a turnover differential of minus-2, and he neither created nor gave up a turnover in the first game. Overall, he is tied for 39th in takeaways with four, but is tied for 23rd in giveaways with six. To give you an idea of just how severe the dropoff has been, Datsyuk led the league in turnover differential at plus-49 in the regular season.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Of all the things you'd probably guess could become an issue for the Penguins, would you ever have thought "offense" would be one of them?
Really, there's something seriously wrong when defenseman Mark Eaton has more goals than first-line wingers Bill Guerin(notes) and Chris Kunitz(notes) combined. The great Sidney Crosby(notes) and Eaton were your Penguins goal-scorers in the 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Capitals yesterday at the Verizon Center, Eaton's goal his third in the seven games of this postseason. That's not just more than Guerin (2) and Kunitz (0), it's more than second-liners Ruslan Fedotenko(notes) (1) and Petr Sykora(notes) (0), third-liners Jordan Staal(notes) (0), Tyler Kennedy(notes) (2) and Matt Cooke(notes) (0) and offensively gifted defensemen Sergei Gonchar (1) and Kris Letang(notes) (0).
That's pretty sick.
I don't know that sick even begins to cover it. What happened to the Guerin and Kunitz that both had close to a point a game in the regular season with the Pens? What's wrong with the power play? Where, for that matter, was Evgeni Malkin Saturday? Simeon Varlamov said he was "not very" noticeable. When someone's saying that about Malkin, your offense is probably in a looooooot of trouble.
Vancouver Canucks: One thing I sure wasn't expecting was for Chicago to blow out the Canucks at GM Place like that, especially because of the opening seven minutes or so. But Vancouver melted down very nicely after that and Chicago has now scored eight goals on Roberto Luongo in the last four periods.
The final score, in fact, flattered the Canucks. After Alex Edler scored a five-on-three goal just under seven minutes in, Alain Vigneault's team produced just four shots on goal until the midway point of the second period. That's when Sharp scored, igniting a ferocious Hawks attack which completely broke down the Canucks' team defence and left Luongo to deal with the Mongol horde storming his crease.
"We played like we did in the third period of Game 1," said Henrik.
Which is to say "incredibly poorly." Now that the series is headed back to Chicago, it's important to note that the Blackhawks haven't lost a home game in anything but a shootout since March 29 (of course, that was to the Canucks). If the Canucks keep playing like this, they're not going to last much longer than five games.
Washington Capitals: If you haven't read Mike Wise's brilliant portrait of Donald Brashear from Saturday's Washington Post (it ran on A-1!), then you're doing yourself a great disservice. To attempt to quote any one part of it seems kind of strange, so I won't, but it was excellent, so just read the whole thing.
On the other hand, the WaPo's decision to run a story, however worthy of publication it may have been, on a suspended player before Game 1 of the Caps' most important playoff series in a decade seems... odd. Granted they'd invested a lot of time and money into the story getting written (it was mostly done around Christmas, it seems), but it's a rather poor editorial decision.
This isn't to say Brashear's story isn't fascinating or the story itself is undeserving of its A-1 treatment, but someone dropped the ball big time. What would the Post have done if the Caps had lost Game 7?
(News and notes from some of the teams that couldn't be bothered to make or stay in the playoffs.)
Fascinating look at the way the NHL draft has changed for prospects. Sad news out of Columbus was that Ryan Salmons passed away on Friday. ... Never a headline you wanna see: "[Owner] regrets buying [team he owns]" ... The Bolts might look to move up in the draft because they have a pair of second-round picks. It'll be interesting to see how they blow this one. ... It's looking more and more likely that Pat Quinn will be the next coach in Edmonton. Good luck with that. ... Can you think of a team that would want a guy like Ray Emery(notes)? Did you guess the Flyers? Of course you did.
Play of the Weekend
Quite the shoving match going on between those that prefer The Varlamov Save...
... and those that prefer The Luongo Save.
Personally, I think Varlamov's had greater gravity, so we'll go with that one. But for the record, The Kiprusoff Save was better than both of them.
Gold Star Award
Ryan Getzlaf's kinda gone off in this Detroit series, eh? He is playing his game with sublime precision right now. Doesn't seem to be able to make a mistake.
Minus of the Weekend
Boy did Zdeno Chara(notes) ever get abused last night. First he gives Eric Staal(notes) waaaaaay too much space behind the net on Joe Corvo's(notes) goal. Then on Matt Cullen's(notes) shorty, he makes a TERRIBLE decision to move to the same side of the net as Dennis Wideman(notes) and fails to hustle back toward the weak side to stop the puck getting to Cullen. He was also on the ice for the empty netter. This is somehow the fourth time he's been a minus-3 this season.
(Not pictured: goals against.)
Next week's game I'm totally going to watch
on Center Ice if I'm home
Like any good NHL fan that has been brainwashed by the ever-rising tide of CROSBYOVECHKINMALKIN advertising, I'll be glued to my seat for every second of the Pens/Caps series. You're welcome, Gary.
Event that should replace the shootout and would be just as relevant to hockey skill
Movie of the Week
How's about the best western of all time, the 1956 masterpiece "The Searchers." You take maybe one of the greatest directors in the history of film, John Ford. Then you add John Wayne at his most badass and in his finest role. And then you have a lot of people die, as was the style at the time. Just look at what a mean bastard John Wayne was in this movie. I mean, jeez.
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
User "*OvechKiN*" knows just how to fix the Flames.
Buff 1st '09
I mean, that's just unbelievable.