Saturday, April 19, 2008

I Will Take What I Can Get

If life were fair and I was King of The World the first thing I would do is have the cops stop one of the idiots who thinks its a great idea to race up Danforth Avenue at 80km an hour. They would take him out of the car, execute him in the middle of the street and I would think that would be the end of that problem. I have a few other situations on my mind that could probably be dealt with in a similar manner.

I would be a cruel yet fair overlord.

After I put my stamp on society I would turn to the NHL. Everyone who has watched the first round this year has been reminded about why this is the best game in the world. Its also the worst run league in professional sports. Here is what I would do:

1/ Fold Florida, Atlanta, Tampa, Phoenix, Nashville, Columbus, New Jersey and Washington.

2/ Put a team back in Winnipeg. Put a second team in southern Ontario. We'll call them The Black Dogs of Aldridge Avenue.

3/ Roll with that 24 team league but be prepared to cut teams like L.A., Carolina, Dallas and Anaheim. No more trying to "grow the game". L.A. has had a team for forty years. People there don't care about hockey. That's fine. There are a rabid knowledgeable core of fans there and beyond that its just not part of the culture. I'd rather eliminate 92 players, thus increasing the quality of the game, then hope that someday people in Wichita will care about hockey.

4/ 60 game season. Last game of the playoffs is played April 30th.

5/ No more shootout. Ties are fine. No more talk about expanding the nets. A 1-0 game is just fine as long as the flow is there and chances are being generated. Having said that, shrink the goalie equipment. There is no need for gigantic billowing pads with the technology out there.

That's a start.

Of course none of this is ever going to happen so I will have to take what I can get and I'll start by cheering New Jersey's elimination. I have no idea why I dislike them so much. Their team first culture is rare these days and should be admired. They have always won by plain old hard work. Players who wanted more then they were worth, in Lou's eyes, were moved and the team kept winning. Even the old trap argument is a bit of a red herring. The teams that Sykora and Arnott were on were flashy and high scoring and the last few years they have had a whack of skilled little guys come on up to their club. I think it just goes back to the bad old days of the 90s. There has always been a trap but these guys refined it and other teams imitated their success. A boring club from a town where nobody cared winning Cups. What could be worse?

The other night, I believe it was G2 against the Rangers, I was flipping channels crazily, trying to catch what I can from every possible game. A 2-1 game, less then a minute left. Thousands of empty seats. So farewell Devils and good riddance. For years they were Cup favourites because they were the Devils. Now another early exit makes me smile.

As for the remaining matchups well I would say things are sussing themselves out but that's not necessarily the case. I think in every series the team in front should advance but I would not be surprised if the tables turned everywhere. Its been that close.

The biggest surprise has been Detroit trying to survive the Preds but while Ellis has been the difference we have also seen parity's effects here most of all I would say. Detroit is the better club but they have gone from a team that had three lines that could threaten to score at any time in 2006 to a two line team (and not a great second line) with suspect goaltending. Well ok, some things haven't changed.

Now I figured the Wings or one of the two California teams as Cup winners and I think the Wings and Sharks are going to move on still but I think its becoming clear that this year's tournament is one that nearly anyone can win. Its that tight.

The darkhorse is still the Avs. Deep and experienced and they are getting the goaltending. This is no longer Wes Walz's Wild, a bunch of nobodies who eke out wins on a wing and a prayer. They are a deep skilled team themselves. Koivu is terrific. But the Avs could knock them out this weekend and I don't know if I would be surprised to see them go far. They have three lines that can score and Lapierre leads a good bunch of role players. Solid veteran D led by Foote. They're scary.

Funny how Thornton is suddenly a playoff warrior after one game. Good thing he scored that goal! And even funnier is how Marleau is suddenly proving himself as a playoff performer. I seem to remember in the days before Thornton's arrival Marleau doing just fine in the playoffs. Makes for a better story this way I guess. As for the Flames they just seem to have too many passengers. And why is Phaneuf always on the ice when San Jose scores?

I'm not writing the Ducks off yet. Win in Dallas and they win the series I think. However its looking more and more like they might not have the guns up front. Moving McDonald for Weight may not have been such a great idea, especially considering Weight looks completely done.

Out east Chara and the Bruins are grinding down the Habs but its funny how one loss suddenly has everyone doubting the Montreals. A couple of odd moves in this one. Boston not dressing Kessel. And Montreal not dressing Ryder. For all of you Ryder haters out here check out sisu. Jeff has been an intermittent poster since he got married but he's back in the saddle this spring and he is one of my favourite guys to read. Terrific stuff.

And finally I think the Caps are almost done. I caught part of the last game and its really wonderful hockey but the Flyers have too much depth. Three lines that can do some damage and a nice fourth line and I'm wondering if the Flyers might be able to make some noise. I doubt it but wouldn't it be awesome to see Thoresen finally get his Cup.



andy grabia said...

I honestly thought Washington was going to sweep Philly. All year they just seemed to lack goaltending, which they ended up getting. As such, I thought they would do some damage in the playoffs. Turns out they are still a few pieces away.

Thoughts on larger ice, Overlord?

doritogrande said...

"2/ Put a team back in Winnipeg."

Never going to happen. We Winnipeggers are too cheap for NHL hockey. I like the Moose, I really do. I just wish they were Edmonton's farm team instead of Van's.

I didn't feel terrible when the Jets left. I was young. I got over it. I moved on to more illustrious hockey clubs. Clubs that can now afford to keep star players, and attract free agents. Clubs that go to G7 SCF.

Well. Actually one club. GOILERS!

Black Dog said...

doritogrande - as the King of The World I can assure you that tickets will be affordable even for you miserly Manitobans

Andy - yeah I picked the Caps too but the lesson I often forget is that so much of the playoffs is about depth. In the OT last game the Flyers would throw out Richards, then Briere, then Carter - even the fourth line which had Thoresen and Kapanen on it, had the ice tilted.

Against a deeper team you might see some of these guys exposed ie/ Lupul and some kids but with the Caps whenever Ovechkin wasn't on the ice I rarely sensed any danger to Philly.

And it was Ovechkin's line that got scored on.

It was a terrific game though and the Caps have a nice team.

Bigger ice - hmm, not sure. There's not a lot of room out there now but I'm wary of the suggestion that bigger ice is a good idea. Maybe a bit bigger but not full out Olympic size. How's thta for sitting on the fence?

Jon G said...

I would picket the king of the world to eliminate the trap and go to the what the NBA was in giving penalties (technical fouls) for anyone breaking the rule

Sean said...

Hate to disagree with you, BD, but they've gotten behind the team in Anaheim - and not just because of or since the Stanley Cup win. I hate the Ducks as much as the next Oiler fan, but everyone I know who's been to a Ducks game said the atmosphere was amazing. What was particularily telling is that my friend and I had been to see the Leafs play the Sabres on Hockey Night in Canada, and it was a library - by far the quietest sporting event I've been to. A week later, he was in Southern California and caught a Ducks game, and he said it was one of the best and loudest crowds he'd ever seen - this is a guy who's been to every Edmonton Oilers playoff game since 1988. So as disappointing as it was to hear this, I trust him absolutely.

Anonymous said...

When it comes to the Caps i find they give up way too many good scoring chances. Mike Green is really overrated IMO. To me he makes really bad defensive decisions which from what ive seen have led to a lot of the Flyers goals.


Black Dog said...

jon g - summary execution at centre ice of any coach who espouses any sort of trap

sean - no argument here - Earl Sleek and our friends in Carolina would tell me to stuff it and I would accept that. At this point I think the teams I mentioned are doing pretty well. If they were able to build a fanbase that sustained them in good times and bad then I have nothing against a team in Anaheim, Carolina etc. and the reason I have separated them from the others is I think the possibility is there.

Having said that I'd rather have sixteen teams in rabid markets then twenty teams which include a few that sre iffy. I think less teams is better.

doug - haven't seen enough of the Caps to say. Green certainly shows up on the scoresheet a lot. The fact that he is a rook makes it a sure thing that there are plenty of mistakes though.

Ender said...

As a goalie, I disagree with half of #5. As a game watcher, I disagree with the other half.

I like the shootout. it's the only way the regular season OT comes close to the level of stress of the playoff's OT.

As for the other half, I hear people talk about kevlar and all of these things as to why goalie equipment should be lighter. To borrow from my post on the puck/bullet thread, it's not a matter of the energy of the bullet. It's a matter of the momentum. You can put on a bullet-proof goalie vest and die of internal bleeding because that momentum needs to go somewhere. When I can wear full goalie gear, get a slapshot to the chest and have it hurt and wind me a bit, I'm not wanting to wear less padding. Seriously, at that point I'm not sure a lot of goalies would even want to play.

Now you might bring up goalies of the past who did play. You might even say that by the hardest shot competition, the high end for slapshots has stayed about the same. The issue is that the average shot is now way harder than it was in the past due to the composite sticks. Yes, to some extent you can make the pads narrower, like they did with the legs, but kidneys are important too (and the side of the chest pad isn't really very big at all.

It's one of those things that might be good in theory, but in reality you'd be greatly increasing the chances of widespread goalie injuries - and serious injuries.

Black Dog said...

ender - have to disagree on the shootout; I understand why people like it and I would be a liar if I said it wasn't entertaining

I just think a skills competition should not decide have an influence on the standings.

As for goalie equipment I would have to defer to you. It certainly is not as big of an issue as it once was and I think anyone who has watched the first round will say that scoring and scoring chances are not an issue. That Habs game six was something else.

RiversQ said...

I disagree on Detroit. That team is still stacked up front. Heck, they're probably deeper at F than any team not named the Sharks.

Names like Cleary, Samuelsson, Filppula, and Franzen aren't sexy, but they're probably going to outchance a lot of name players out there.

As for SJ, they've sat Rissmiller and Goc for most of the series and those guys could've easily played minutes for the 9th place WC team.

Black Dog said...

rivers - my argument isn't that Detroit isn't strong up front - I have Cleary and Franzen in my pool - but that they are not what they were two years ago

Cleary and Franzen are terrific players but they've come up the depth chart as others have moved on

of course if you were to ask me if I wanted Daniel Cleary or Robert Lang on my team I would probably go with Cleary so ...