Citizens of Vancouver, after a long, long wait, it is finally upon us. We first learned of it last week, and details of its imminent arrival have been trickling in for days now. This event has not been to any Canadian cities, no matter how deserving. It’s gone to such warm-weather markets as California and Florida, much to the chagrin of prairie dwellers and mountain climbers alike. From west coast la-la-landers to Maritime good ol’ boys, we Canadians have been champing at the bit for this for far too long. That’s right: Real Housewives of Vancouver is coming to a disreputable television station near you.
Oh, and the Canucks are in the Stanley Cup Finals. Game one goes Wednesday June 1 at 5 PM. Here are Seven Things we want to see out of this series.
7. First, we want to see good hockey. The Canucks and Bruins lone meeting this year was one of the high points of the long regular season. The score was tied late into the third period, with both teams hitting, skating, and passing with the best of them. Ironically, considering their playoff woes on the power play, the Bruins’ winning goal that day came with the man advantage after a late, questionable penalty call. Milan Lucic had three points as the Bruins won 3-1.
The biggest D-man in the world versus the league’s deepest defensive corps. Some of the best pure power forwards in the game in Lucic, Ryan Kesler and Nathan Horton. The last two scoring champs in the Sedin twins. Two Vezina finalists in goal. Two teams that alternately score up a storm or shut the freakin’ door. This series should be playoff hockey at its finest, and a series long remembered regardless of the outcome.
6. Lots of hits would be nice. Whether it’s Raffi “Crazy Eyes” Torres sprinting the width of the ice to knock a defender on his ass, Keith Ballard cartwheeling someone with a picture perfect hip check or Alex Edler standing up a forward in the neutral zone, the Canucks have played their best hockey this post-season when they’ve worn down their opponents physically. Sure, the Bruins can dish it out too, but the Canucks are already the superior team in both top-end talent and depth; if they can wear out the Bruins best players, this series will be a quick one.
5. We want to see the Sedins shed their last critics. After ten NHL seasons, an Art Ross trophy and an Olympic gold medal apiece, a Hart trophy for Hank and a nomination for Dank, the Sedins still have their detractors among casual fans. Even more knowledgable fans, the ones who no longer refer to them as “soft”, or “sisters”, still sometimes criticize them for being too bland. (Obviously they don’t listen to Henrik in the post-game scrum very often. This guy’s sense of humour isn’t brash like Ryan Kesler’s bombing of teammate’s interviews – Hank is subtle, clever.)
Now is the twins’ time to shine. The wizardry that Henrik and Daniel display daily – the way they can dominate shift after shift with precision passing that boggles the mind – is something that needs to be seen regularly to be believed. Well, here you are, guys: a seven-game series in prime time, with nothing to distract the hockey fans of the world from the way you spin Zdeno Chara around so frequently he looks like the world’s tallest figure skater. Make us proud.
4. We really want to have nothing to bitch at the refs about. At the risk of sounding like a stereotypical Vancouverite, the refereeing in the conference finals left a lot to be desired. I’m not usually one to dwell overmuch on the officiating – I’m a carded umpire myself, so I know how athletes and fans tend to blame the zebras when a game goes the other way – but there have been some bizarrely called games this playoff. Game three of the Western Conference Final saw a staggering eleven minor penalties called against one team. Game four of that same series saw five straight penalties called against one team, before the seesaw tilted the other way in the form of three consecutive five-on-three powerplays. Game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals saw the other extreme, with no penalties called at all. For the record, that hadn’t happened in a playoff game in twenty-one years.
A happy medium would be appreciated in the finals. We recognize that not every minor stick infraction is going to be whistled down, but the officials need to find a balance between too many penalties and none at all. Just call the game fairly – call the penalties that should be called, and leave out the tickytack crap – and we’ll be fair to you too. Promise.
3. It would be great if centremen could take face-offs. My last bit on officiating – we hope – is on the linesmen. Can we PLEASE just drop the puck? It seems like more face-offs are contested by a winger and a centre, or two wingers, than are actually contested by the two people who lined up to take the draw in the first place. It’s ok to not throw a guy out EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
2. We need the Rogers Arena faithful to support the team as loud as they can. We tried, unsuccessfully, to secure tickets to game five. As we predicted in our podcast episode 32, we think game five is when the series will end. Since we can’t be there ourselves, we charge those lucky few who nabbed tickets to make Rogers Arena the fortress it should be. Our building is normally not nearly as loud as, for instance, the Bell Centre in Montreal. At game 3 against Nashville, a couple next to us sat silently through the entire game. They weren’t physically challenged – they walked to their seat and animatedly spoke on their cel phones during the intermissions – but they did not react to the game or the crowd even once through three periods of second round action. Unacceptable. You all paid massive amounts of money to be there. If you did not pay for your ticket, you ought to scream louder, dammit, even if – especially if – the Canucks are behind, or give your seat to a true hockey fan who’s been priced out of the building. Get up and yell until your voice is gone or you’ll be hearing from us again at the end of the series!
1. Finally, after what we think will be a great series, we want to see what will be one of the most touching moments in sports history. After all the artistry we’ve witnessed from Henrik Sedin over the last eleven years, we want to see him make the easiest pass of his career. We want to see the image that will supplant the photo of an exhausted Trevor Linden sharing defeat with goaltender Kirk MacLean after game seven in 1994. We want to see our captain hand the Stanley Cup to his twin brother Daniel.