April 01, 2011
Trending Topics is a new column that looks at the week in hockey according to Twitter. If you're only going to comment to say how stupid Twitter is, why not just go have a good cry for the slow, sad death of your dear internet instead?
The Vancouver Canucks have now officially been the best team in hockey, since the beginning of October right up until today.
They have the Presidents' Trophy all sewn up, and, barring a horrific collapse on their part, plus a huge turnaround by the Philadelphia Flyers, they will likely win it by a healthy margin.
However, as everyone on the planet is quick to point out, Presidents' Trophy winners don't traditionally win the Stanley Cup. Since they started handing out the formal trophy in 1985-86, the team with the most points in the regular season has won the Cup just seven times, and the 2007-08 Red Wings are the only ones to do so since the lockout.
So when teams like the Canucks or the Washington Capitals before them — those with playoff histories that are spotty at best — do go out from and lay waste to nearly every team from October through April, people just laugh. They'll say that this is in no way indicative of how good the Canucks are as a team. Not really. Because: They Haven't Won The Cup.
Even people like the wonderful Tom Benjamin, who believe winning the Presidents' Trophy is remarkable thing that should be celebrated, say that in the same breath as they note it's not the "big prize." And what sense does that make?
There's this illogic in North America that places the importance of a season not on the 82-game, six-month slog of a schedule, but rather on a 28-game-at-most, needlessly drawn out crapshoot of a lottery. One which rewards luck rather than an ability to win, a lot, for more than half a year.
I'm not sure what it is that makes people think the playoffs are so much more important than the regular season.
What little I know of baseball history indicates to me that the World Series, the oldest postseason tournament in North America, was little more than a way to make money and determine whether the winner of two totally separate leagues — the regular season champions, in fact — was better.
That the Stanley Cup, or really any postseason trophy, has taken on this level of import is curious, given what it takes to win it: a winning percentage as low as .571, or about a 94-point regular season pace. Boy if that doesn't scream excellence, nothing does.
This concept that the real teams are separated from the pretenders during the postseason is of course ridiculous. You know that. There's never been a conversation about a mediocre playoff team with a good goalie where you haven't said, "…but he could steal a series."
"Steal" being the operative word, as it implies that the series and indeed the playoffs themselves rightfully belong to the league's best teams at their core.
And players with amazing regular-season numbers but so-so playoff stats? Chokers. Joe Thornton(notes) is a choker. Can't possibly be one of the best players on the planet. That makes sense. Because Proven Playoff Warriors like Pavel Datsyuk(notes) or Bill Guerin(notes) have never had stretches of seven or 10 games in their career where they weren't particularly effective.
Oddly, people actually also say — and, I guess, fully believe — that Alex Ovechkin(notes) is a choker, despite his having more points per postseason game than anyone currently in the NHL and scoring more than he does in the regular season. It probably has something to do with his inability to also be both defensemen and the goalie as well as a ruinous and highly productive sniper.
And don't get me wrong, I love the playoffs for all the drama that the ping-pong-ball probability brings. But the value placed on them, rather than the regular season, seems far too great to be reasonable. Winning in the playoffs isn't everything. In fact, it's occasionally a complete fluke. You don't get Edmonton/Carolina Cup Finals otherwise.
Yeah, winning the Stanley Cup is a pretty cool accomplishment, and one that should obviously be celebrated to some extent. But to also denigrate beating the hell out of everyone you play for 82 games? That's just stupid. Because winning the Presidents' Trophy is a more impressive achievement.
Canucks fans prove the worst people in the universe
Speaking of trashing the Presidents' Trophy winner as being unable to compete in the playoffs, Theo Fleury recently hopped on Twitter and asked his followers if they thought the Canucks can make it out of the first round (and of course they can) because he's not sold on Roberto Luongo(notes).
Maybe a bit of trolling of Vancouver fans, but you'd think no harm, no foul, right?
Wrong. Apparently this is the type of thing that really brings the mouthbreathers out of the woodwork. So offended were Vancouverites that Fleury had the temerity to suggest the Canucks or Luongo were not infallible that things got really ugly, really fast.
For making this statement, Fleury was taunted by some of the most vile human beings on earth for his substance abuse problems and, worse, the sexual abuse in his past. Fortunately, these cretinous embarrassments were shouted down fairly quickly, and certainly do not represent the entire fanbase, but some people are the absolute worst.
How remarkably vile.
TJ Oshie missed practice the other day, leading to his being left home for two games by the team (he later donated his paychecks for those matches to charity). While no official reason was given for the quasi-suspension, a lot of people had theories.
@dgregson: trying to get 3 stars on all levels of Angry Birds
@itsjuststarla: Getting in line SUPER early for the last Harry Potter movie.
@JoeYerdonPHT: He's trying to get back that Filet 'O Fish.
@TheFecklessPuck: Writing a savage missive about bloggers in the press box
@theactivestick: Criminal Minds marathon on A&E
@AnthraxJones: "Up where he belongs." - Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
@SkinnyPPPhish: At the bottom of a well with Timmy O'Toole
And your very topical winner:
@SpeakoftheDevs: Looking for the cobra that escaped from the Bronx Zoo.
Pearls of Biz-dom
BizNasty on getting chirped by a certain former shoe-fighter: "Milbury? The guy who traded chara and the second pick (spezza) for yashin? That guy?"
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