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?
There was a lot of talk from fans and media alike as the Vancouver Canucks at long last eliminated the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Boston Bruins finally won a Game 7.
That "demons" had been "exorcised" and "the ghosts" driven howling back to the nether, where they would never be seen or heard from again.
But I've seen enough exorcism and haunted house movies (OK, just "The Exorcist" and "Poltergeist") to know that just when you think they've gone away, that's when they come back scarier than ever.
And unfortunately for the Canucks and Bruins, that precedent looks like it could very well hold up.
Yeah, the Canucks finally put the Chelsea Dagger to their long-time tormentors, needing a Game 7, an extra period and a terribly fortunate giveaway from an extraordinarily unfortunate defenseman to accomplish it, even after being up three games to Chicago's goose egg.
Euphoria in Vancouver! A curse lifted! The very high likelihood that there will be a couple thousand new Vancouverites born in nine months or so!
All ignoring the mightily inconvenient fact that the Canucks' problems extend beyond the Chicago Blackhawks, and always have.
Sure, they've made the playoffs a fair amount in the last decade, but only once, in 2003, did they even play in a game where a win would have moved them on to the Western Conference finals. And in that series, well hey, guess what: They went up 3-1 before dropping three in a row, two of which were at home, by an aggregate score 16-5.
And it's fair enough for you to say that the 2002-03 Canucks share exactly three players with the current iteration (and even then, the Sedins were but 22-year-old, 30-point players). But if we're going to act like the frustrations suffered 40 years the franchise was founded carried weight just a few days ago, so too does this.
You know how many current Canucks have played past a conference quarterfinal? Two. Mikael Samuelsson and Raffi Torres. And unless they get all the guys to huddle real close in the dressing room, imparting secret get-out-of-the-second-round wisdom like an ancient bard (that isn't "let Lidstrom/Pronger run the show"), they're not all going to magically know what the hell they're doing. If we're going to talk about Roberto Luongo's fragile mental state because of the Blackhawks, then the panic of not knowing how to beat anyone in the second round must be coiled around everyone else like a snake.
As it turns out, 1994 was a long-ass time ago, and no date with the Nashville Predators in the second round guarantees safe passage to the third, necessarily. The Predators vanquished their own dragons in even getting to this point, and there's no reason Vancouver's should be any more or less valid, apart from the fact that the Canucks are probably going to gut them like fish.
Not that anyone on earth would be surprised if they didn't.
Similar to the Canucks is the Bruins' well-documented problems with closing out series. It is exceedingly difficult to remember the last time the Bruins actually won a Game 7 off the top of your head. As with the Canucks, you have to go all the way back to 1994, when they beat the Canadiens in the first round after being down 3-1 in the series. They were 0 for 4 since then.
But oh, hey, they beat the Habs. And like the Canucks needed overtime to do it. What drama! It gave Jack Edwards extra time to cook up that insane, rambling speech that only occasionally touched on the very edges of making sense, but other than that, the game served little purpose than to reassure the Bruins' detractors.
Going negative-1 for 21 on the very, very, veryvery limp power play during a series is no way to ensure victory (proof: that's the first team ever to have gone 0-fer on the man advantage and won a seven-game set). Nor is having about as much skill up front as the Blue Jackets when Rick Nash is on the IR. Nor is taking penalties inside of three minutes remaining in regulation. Nor is giving up several five-on-threes in a game. Nor is going down 2-0 in a series for which you have home ice advantage.
But the Bruins did all that and still won, and now look who stands in the way of the Bruins' first appearance in the conference finals since 1992: It's the team that made the most hilarious, if not the greatest, series comeback in sports history in the same round last year, the Philadelphia Flyers.
That's a whole new, and altogether scarier, set of ghosts, isn't it? It may have taken the Flyers seven games to put the sword to an underwhelming, and in the end ineffectual, Buffalo squad, and they may come with the same goaltending problems that should have plagued them last year; but the Bruins will need to have their proton packs on full power if they want to have any hope of advancing.
Now that the media is done cooking up thrilling fictions about the Blackhawks' ability to beat the Canucks coming from INSIDE ROGERS CENTER!!!!!!, and holding flashlights under their chins as they weave heartstopping tales of Marc Savard's Game 7 line change nightmares that become horrifying reality, there are fresh monsters to face.
Vancouver and Boston want to exorcise the latest set of demons? They're going to need a bigger Bible, because after all, every good scary story gets a sequel.
Or maybe, just maybe, it's all made up and doesn't matter.
Nothing made me laugh harder this week than when my buddy and partner in charity Chemmy from Pension Plan Puppets asked the Twitterverse to tell stories about their worst-ever memories from playing beer league hockey. Imaginging these happening in an NHL game makes it all so much better.
@DownGoesSpezza got it started the right way: "high sticked myself on a faceoff"
@raaaachel_4519: "went to kick the puck, tripped over it, rolled my ankle, and took out my own goalie. other team scored."
@KellBHDL: "Falling back into the bench while trying to get on the ice"
@bryanbell09: "Jumped out of penalty box to take lead pass for breakaway, stepped on the puck and went down."
@JaredOfLondon: "switched teams at the half, totally forgot, scored on own goalie first shift on new team"
@WvadsaDicfoure: "Cried after winning the end of season Most Improved Award"
@garrettbauman: "New stick. Celebrated wildly thinking I'd scored the winner. Nope. Blade went into the net, puck was between my skates."
@hawknut: "Checking out teammate's sister in stands during pregame skate,face-planted over our goalie stretching in front of bench"
And your winner, because I have no idea how this even begins to happen:
@mikenumberfive: "Lost my skate mid-stride"
Pearls of Biz-dom
We all know that there isn't a better Twitter account out there than that of Paul Bissonnette. So why not find his best bit of advice on love, life and lappers from the last week?
BizNasty on the apocalypse: "If Van loses Game 7. Granville street is getting destroyed. And the only thing that will servive are the Roxy an Spoons."
If you've got something for Trending Topics, holla at Lambert on Twitter or via email. He'll even credit you so you get a thousand followers in one day and you'll become the most popular person on the Internet! You can also visit his blog if you're so inclined.