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The Sublime, the Ridiculous, and the Indefensible

[ 78 ] April 13, 2012 |

The best postseason in sports has, in fact, been tremendous so far. And in addition to the many exceptionally good games — and the Flyers/Penguins series could be one of the best first-round matchups ever — we have the high comedy of Ryan Kesler’s auditions for the Azzurri:



Above: necessary and sufficient grounds for Drew Doughty immediately being awarded the Conn Smythe trophy.

Alas, one blemish on the otherwise great playoff is the failure to suspend Shea Weber. It’s true that it’s the time of the game that is causing people to call for a harsher punishment than might otherwise be merited, but the thing is that the time of the game is relevant. With a lot of time left in a close game, the disincentives created by penalties are important. The hit Bitz got suspended for was more dangerous than the Weber play, but the major penalty he was assessed has a huge impact on the game (as the Kings scored a PP goal that would prove decisive.) But with the game over, suspensions are the only sanction, and it’s a bad precedent to let it slide with a trivial fine. Weber should have at least gotten a game, and Red Wings fans are right to be agitated. I blame Berube’s failure to do any hockey blogging this year…

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  • Fighng Words

    Go Sharks!!!

  • Did you see the one stretch in the second period of the Sens game where the refs managed to miss two obvious Senator trips, called the Rangers for a trip that is never called and blew an icing? Those guys should have been fired between periods. Also have you seen the Kings troll the Canucks on twitter, its hilarious.

    • LKS

      All true hockey fans know that their team’s inabilty to score more goals than the other team is invariably due to either (a) bad/biased officiating, or (b) the front office’s shitty deals. It is never, ever the fault of the guys on the ice.

      • How true. A series of non-existent power plays following real fouls and real power plays resulting from non-existent fouls never have any bearing on the game.

        JzB

      • Um, the Rangers won the game so nice try boys. Also I didn’t claim any bias, simple incompetence is usually the explanation.

        • LKS

          Correction: “their team’s inability to score even more goals than they actually did…”

          • Forgot the part where I never accused them of being corrupt, simply incompetent. If you’re going to inaccurately accuse me of whining because the refs aren’t favoring my team at least hit every bullet point.

            • PIM

              whiny Rangers fan whines

      • Ian

        In Vancouver a couple weeks ago, the home crowd booed Luongo and cheered when he was pulled out of the net. They did this on his birthday.

        They’re the worst fans in hockey. Karma has given them a team of highly talented sad-sacks and quitters.

        • proverbialleadballoon

          two more to go, and vancouver burns early this year!

      • witless chum

        If I was Zeus, I’d start firing thunderbolts every time a fan mentioned bad officiating on the internet. It’s the absolute worst, most boring thing to read about any sport.

        • Romney is really boring, too. Let’s just ignore his existence.

      • Bill Murray

        It is never, ever the fault of the guys on the ice.

        aren’t the refs on the ice?

  • Desert Rat

    Two wins on the road for my Flyers.

  • LKS

    Flyers-Pens was certainly entertaining enough tonight, if you like last-team-to-score-wins games.

  • I have hated the Flyers since the Fred Shero days 40 years ago, since they always won by goon tactics and cheating; and the pansies in the league front office always let them get away with. Scoring the wining goal by interfering with the goalie was typical.

    I never had any animus toward the Penguins until their pair of final series against the Wings, when I discovered that they are a bunch of whining, cheating cry-babies. Malkin’s non-suspension was every bit as egregious as Weber’s. That General Mgr. Ray Shero is Fred Shero’s son is mere coincidence, I’m sure.

    Is there any way they can both lose?

    And take the shoot-out with them?

    JzB

    • I’m rooting for game 7 to be decided by a horde of honey badgers.

      • joe from Lowell

        Do you think the cold from the ice might bother the honey badgers?

        • proverbialleadballoon

          honey badger don’t give a shit, joe. :)

          • Bill Murray

            but the honey solidifies if it gets too cold

    • LKS

      Is there any way they can both lose?

      Given the superb goaltending/D on both sides tonight, I predict the winner doesn’t get past round 2. Will you settle for that?

      • In the real world, you take what you can get.

        JzB

    • Desert Rat

      Dude. That was nearly forty years ago. Fred Shero’s been dead since the Clinton years. Time to let go of the anger. The Flyers haven’t really played that way since the early 1980’s. This may be the best skating team they’ve ever had.

      • Two things –

        1) I almost never see the Flyers, so I am unaware of their virtues.

        2) Sport fandome (or in this case antifandome) is the only are in my life where I hold grudges. Please don’t take it away from me.

        JzB

      • db

        The post Legion of Doom teams in the late 90’s were physical and often nasty. The Flyers are more talented overall now but they still led the league in PIMs.

  • Scott Lemieux

    It’s not exactly news that Hughson makes an ass of himself when calling Canucks games, but the Kings shorty was extra-priceless. [Shot clearly in, red light goes on, ref points at net, Kings celebrate] “WHAT A SAVE BY TAAAANEV! WHAT A SAVE! WHAT A SAVE!!!!!!!”

    • LKS

      On the whole though, I think hockey announcers are on average waaaaaaaaaay better than the average announcer in any other major pro sport, especially on the national broadcasts.

      • proverbialleadballoon

        except for pierre. what a little redwing bootlicking weenie.

    • Rekster

      I feel sorry for all of you folks who are deprived of the greatness of Ralph Strangis and Razor Reagh. Our Dallas Stars have been struggling but we are blessed with the cream of the crop in the hockey announcing universe!

      A commenter at http://www.balloon-juice.com regarding the Pens v Flyers:

      “Seriously, it was like watching the World Cup with all the dives going on.”

      Priceless

      • proverbialleadballoon

        i’ll put pat foley and eddie o up against any pair in the league. foley has an unbelievably sharp feel for the game, and eddie moonlights as the national color guy for a reason. ‘stop it right there!’

        and this is still the best depantsing of a supposed leader of one’s own team evah.

        • Seitz

          The guy in the clip above happens to be a hall of famer. I’ll take Bob MIller over every announcer working in the NHL. It’s killing me not to be able to get the Kings feed in this series.

          As a Chicagoan, though not at all a Hawks fan, I do like Foley, and I like Eddie O because he’s a former King.

          The Karpotsev thing was great, but it’s kind of sad now considering he died in that plane crash earlier this year.

          • fox

            Miller is a great announcer but I noticed a substantial increase in flubs this year. I think 40 years in the booth and his age are finally catching up to him. Wish he could be paired with Brian Heyward once during a Kings-Ducks game.

            For over the top goal calls it is hard to beat Jeanneret though I don’t want to listed to him for an entire game.

            • Seitz

              Oh good god no. Brian Hayward is everything that is wrong with color commentating. The only good thing about having him between the glass in the playoffs is the potential for him to get brained on a puck out of play. Why would you pair a Kings play by play guy with an amateur who clearly and demonstrably hates the Kings?

              • fox

                From the standpoint that Heyward is superior to Jim Fox. He is a Ducks homer but matching him with Miller and Fox with Ahlers for a period would be an interesting experiment.

                How many times did you repeat 8th grade?

  • bph

    The sad thing is that the Canucks can be play really well when they want to. It seems that they figured that they only needed to play hard for about 20 minutes. Did no one look at Quick’s stats?

  • Richard

    Kessler isn’t the only diver on the Canucks. But the Kings just scored their second short hander of the night to take the lead. Go Kings

    • efgoldman

      Oh, man. What could be better than the Penguins and the Canucks both losing the first two at home!

      • Rekster

        Well, when both of the Canadian NHL teams are gone in the first round we’ll have to put the entire Canadian Nation on suicide watch!

        Though I do love to hear Oh Canada sung before any team from up North comes to Dallas to play the Stars.

        • Rhino

          I assure you that, even to most of British Columbia, th Vancouver Canucks are the most reviled team in hockey. Even the leafs receive our pity but we HATE the Canucks.

          • I don’t believe that’s the case. I have next to no interest in hockey and I see a whole lotta Canucks fandom around me.

            • Scott Lemieux

              Yeah, the Canucks are obviously well loved in BC. But the rest of the nation will celebrate if they’re eliminated; there’s no national Canadian team.

              • efgoldman

                …there’s no national Canadian team.

                I think if either the Leafs or the Habs were decent, they would be. Certainly Toronto was whent there were fewer teams.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  Really, really not true. The Maple Leafs are still more hated than the Canucks despite four decades of irrelevance. The “fewer teams” things is a classic “apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln” argument. In our actually existing world most people outside of Toronto who didn’t grow up Leafs fans despise the team, and the CBC’s ongoing campaign to pretend that they’re a national team is a source of endless derision.

    • Scott Lemieux

      That was so full of win. Penalty call after a Canuck trips over the goddamned net, and another great save by Tanev shorthander by Dustin “Instant Karma!” Brown.

      • Richard

        End of two. One goal lead . Quick on his game

        • Richard

          Kings up by three with five minutes left. Pouring a celebratory drink

          • Scott Lemieux

            Love cheering for the Kings, much more than the Blackhawks or Sharks. Really fun, hard-working team; they’ve been great.

            • joe from Lowell

              This might be the first time I’ve ever cheered for an LA team.

              It’s a little weird.

            • Seitz

              They’ve underachieved most of the year, but the change of coaches made a big difference, and they really started to come together around the Jack Johson/Jeff Carter trade. Over the last twenty games, they’ve been much better than an eighth place team. And with the West so balanced, I could see them coming out of it. They’re also helping me to not care about the Angels’ awful start.

              For those of us that have been Kings fans since birth, we haven’t had much to cheer about over the years, but the next few years could be pretty special. I’ve been watching and going to Kings games since I was little kid in the late ’70s early ’80s, and this is the deepest I’ve ever seen the franchise.

              • Scott Lemieux

                Yeah, the puzzle isn’t why they are playing this well, but why they were playing so badly earlier in the year. Sutter was a great hire, and the Columbus trade was fantastic (not only because Carter helps but because Johnson is pretty terrible.)

                • Seitz

                  They were pretty predictable for a lot of the season. Get it into the zone, work it back to the point, and shoot. Teams started sagging back and blocking a lot of shots. Some of it was just bad luck as well. Their shooting percentage was awful. And they weren’t nearly as successful in shootouts as they were last year. That’s a good six or seven points right there.

                  They’re playing more of a read and react style with the puck now, and doing it while maintaining their strong defense and penalty killing. They have a lot of talented players who are now being given the opportunity to show it. Voynov has really stepped up, and King and Nolan have added a lot of the physical element. Quick may be playing his way out of town. I’m not sure they’ll pay him what he’ll be able to demand, especially with Bernier waiting in the wings.

  • efgoldman

    I don’t feel like checking out the Pittsburgh post game quotes, and I didn’t watch that much of the game (but glad to see the score), but I’ve got to think they had to build a special aqueduct from the arena to the Monongahela for all the tears coming from Mario and the gang.
    Way to play defense, Pens. How the hell can you score five goals in a playoff game and lose? Very badly.
    And no, I’m not a Flyers fan. Hate them, too.

    • There’s a reason I tend to use the hashtag #Tortswasright.

  • Josh

    the Azzurri

    Man, why do the Italians get such a bad rap for diving? The South Americans are as bad or worse.

    (There’s probably a doctoral thesis to be written about the way diving/simulation/boundary-pushing is viewed in the Anglo sports world vs. elsewhere. I remember someone pointing, in the context of the Argentina-England semifinal at the ’86 World Cup, that in the Anglo world, people remember that game for the Hand of God; in the non-English-speaking world, people remember it for the Goal of the Century.)

    • Thlayli

      In Northern European countries (and former colonies thereof), the mindset is: the rules are the rules, and you follow the rules, period.

      In Southern European countries (and former colonies thereof). the thinking goes: the rules were made by the corrupt elite to screw the common man, and the common man succeeds by finding ways around the rules and beating the system.

      • efgoldman

        …the rules were made by the corrupt elite to screw the common man, and the common man succeeds by finding ways around the rules and beating the system.

        This really explains it all.

        • Alan in SF

          Jeez, I thought we were gonna see Kesler roll around in agony, grab at his ankles as if they were on fire, then thrash about as if having a death spasm. That’s barely a flop. This guy couldn’t dive in the Italian junior league.

  • McKingford

    The thing that bothers me most about the NHL’s non-action on the Weber hit was the fact that Zetterberg wasn’t injured. That’s a terrible reason!

    If you want to prevent injuries, you discipline actions that are at series risk of injuring someone. The fact that Zetterberg wasn’t injured on the play was a mere product of chance. Factoring Z’s non-injury into the discipline is like saying because nobody was actually struck by a stray bullet by a guy who shot into a crowd means he shouldn’t face charges.

    • Bart

      Right!

      Shanahan:

      “We reached out to Detroit following the game and were informed that Zetterberg did not suffer an apparent injury and should be in the lineup for Game 2.”

      So what about Renee Fucking Bourque and Nick Backstrom?

      – Craig Berube

  • Something doesn’t make sense here

    Best postseason in sports?

    But the nba playoffs haven’t started yet

    • proverbialleadballoon

      fifteen years ago, maybe. the over-refereeing of today’s nba really takes the wind out of the sails; plus, any sport where even the players on the court wouldn’t watch until the last ten minutes of the game is disqualified.

      • Scott Lemieux

        Any postseason where only a tiny handful of teams have any chance of winning is not terribly interesting unless you’re already a big fan. In the NHL, every series matters.

    • Max Daru

      Yes, indeed. Best athletes and a game that has scoring every other possession so that the outcome can’t be decided by one or two mistakes.

      Also, 6 of the 16 teams in the playoffs have a real possibility of winning the title so I would hardly call that a tiny handful.

      • Anonymous

        Boston, Chicago, and Miami in the East and OKC, San Antonio, and LAL in the West. Each team has real pluses and real flaws, so it should be excellent.

        Also, don’t sleep on the Mavs.

  • re: Berube

  • So Scott linked to a poll that shows Canucks aren’t well-hated by Canadians, and that a plurality of Canadians will cheer for them primarily in the playoffs. All that right after saying how “everyone outside of BC” hates them. Does he read his own links?

    All this anti-Nuck glee and no one to mention that a big reason for them losing is that their by far best goal-scorer was taken out with an egregious elbow to the head? I suppose Daniel deserved that for looking so similar to Henrik that y’all are creeped out, or whatever the reason for the Sedin-hate is.

    • Scott Lemieux

      All that right after saying how “everyone outside of BC” hates them.

      Yes, yes, to state the obvious this claim was not meant to be taken literally. For the record, merely “many” Canadians hate the Canucks and only a majority won’t be cheering for them.

      All this anti-Nuck glee and no one to mention that a big reason for them losing is that their by far best goal-scorer was taken out with an egregious elbow to the head?

      Keith, obviously, should not be playing in this round (and, I would note, was fortunate not to be similarly hurt by the head shot Sedin gave him directly before his own illegal hit.) They would be better with him in the lineup for sure. By the same token, preemptive whining about injuries in the context of the NHL playoffs is pretty irritating. If an otherwise healthy team can’t be expected to even get out of the first round because of an injury to someone getting less than a point a game, they don’t deserve to win anything.

      Although I guess this means we’re not going to be hearing any more “Ryan Kesler is the new Mark Messier!!!!!!” arguments, thank God.

      • If a plurality is good enough for Stephen Harper, it’s good enough for me! Oh, and how many people will be cheering for the Flames this playoffs? Go Canada’s Team, whoo!

        Keith, obviously, should not be playing in this round (and, I would note, was fortunate not to be similarly hurt by the head shot Sedin gave him directly before his own illegal hit.)

        False equivalence: it’s not just for the Washington Post anymore!!!!

        Although I guess this means we’re not going to be hearing any more “Ryan Kesler is the new Mark Messier!!!!!!” arguments, thank God.

        I dunno who you’ve been talking to, since I’m pretty sure there is not a single Canucks fan in the world that would end a sentence with “…is the new Mark Messier” approvingly. And yes, I think that stat would stand up in a Globe and Mail poll.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Oh, and how many people will be cheering for the Flames this playoffs?

          You are correct — the Canucks are a much, much better organization than the Flames (who nobody thinks of as a national team.) I find the insecurity of Canucks fans a little odd; I would take a page from FDR’s rhetorical book and welcome their hatred. Being hated is much better than being irrelevant.

          I dunno who you’ve been talking to, since I’m pretty sure there is not a single Canucks fan in the world that would end a sentence with “…is the new Mark Messier” approvingly.

          Touche, yes, the Messier comparison specifically would be more likely to come from the media. Still, from media and Canucks fans alike the hype on Kesler — a very good player and nothing more than that, although to be clear he’s better than any centre the Flames have had since the Clinton administration — was getting a little much. The fact that Canucks fans are now saying that they couldn’t possibly be expected to win without Daniel Sedin would seem to reflect that we agree.

          • “Welcoming their hatred” only works if you win. I’d love for the Canucks to be hated for being the best. But, well, not there yet.

            As for Kesler, he had a stellar season last season. Whether that was just the stars aligning once or something we’ll see more of in the future, only G_d and fancystats people know.

  • Matt Carkner gets suspended until next year right?

  • Western Dave

    Is pulling somebody down by their hair now going to be called Crosbying?