Category Archives: Hockey

The Playoff Beard Diary: Day 3 – Self-congratulation amidst the self-flagellation

Pucked in the Head is proud to welcome Richard Davalos (@QuakesFan84) and his Playoff Beard Diary. For those growing facial hair, we salute you!

When it comes to watching Canucks playoff hockey, there is no difference between the two. The first five minutes of the game are all “whoo GO CANUCKS GO!” and the final five minutes are “I’m not sure how much of this I can take” *Calgary scores* “Why do I put myself through this?”. It is good to be watching playoff hockey and experiencing impotent frustration again. Feelings of wanting to be alone for a while after a loss, where would I be without you? Happier? Ehhh overrated.

Regarding Game 1 – I would like to point out one thing from my Canucks-Flames series preview.

The team that makes the least number of defensive mistakes will win this series.

Yell at Luca Sbisa all you want, its completely off base. Yannick Weber was the one who decided that the best way to clear the puck from the defensive zone was up the middle, hanging Sbisa out to dry defending a spontaneous 3-on-1. There’s even less for a fan in to do in that situation other than hope that Eddie Lack makes the save. Pick your poison, Canucks fans: defensive issues or goaltending issues. One is easier to fix, provied you don’t hand a major source of it a 3 year deal with an AAV of 3.6 million.

Around the League

St. Louis does it again. Is there really any other team with a bigger case of the playoff yips the last 10 years than the Blues? They are 8-18 in their last 5 playoff appearances (including this year) and they’ve been swept twice. For a team in its prime, it is underacheiving at a level that could see coach Hitchcock fired outright if not squarely on a scaldingly hot seat. There’s the bad luck of running into a buzzsaw every year, and this is not that. With Kevin Shattenkirk presumably back at 100%, there’s no excuse.

No suspension for PK Subban after his hack at Mark Stone’s wrist, resulting in a microfracture and putting the Calder candiate’s availability for games 2 and beyond in the air. I was satisfied with the original 5 minute major given to Subban for the infraction, but I was iffy on whether it deserved a game misconduct since it was not as hard of a slash as it could have been. Then again, thats like saying “getting shot once is not as bad as getting shot 4 times”. I wouldn’t want to take a hack to the wrist at any strength. If the NHL is serious about removing dirty play from the game, the 5-and-a-game call for even *potentially* injurious dirty hits need to be doled out regularly. Suspend the infraction, not the injury.

Any fears of Anaheim getting upset by Winnipeg should have greatly diminished after Game 1. Anaheim was the faster, deeper, stronger team, and the Jets looked completely sluggish in the 3rd period. It also doesn’t help when the Jets’ captain took out goalie Ondrej Pavelec in the pregame skate, which undoubtedly affected the Czech netminder’s mindset in the opening minutes. Regardless, the final stanza of that game was all Anaheim, and Winnipeg was just holding on for dear life. A repeat performance in Game 2 and the atmosphere back at MTS for Game 3 won’t be sufficent to boost the shallow Jets back into the series.

Predictions

@ Montreal 4, Ottawa 2

@ Washington 3, NY Islanders 2

Chicago 2, Nashville 0

@ Vancouver 3, Calgary 1

Beard Update

65+ hours worth of growth right here. This is bad and I do feel bad.
65+ hours worth of growth right here. This is bad and I do feel bad.

The 2015 Playoff Beard Diary: Day 1 – The Boycott (Has Been) Over

Pucked in the Head is proud to welcome Richard Davalos (@QuakesFan84) and his Playoff Beard Diary. For those about to grow facial hair, we salute you!

It’s NHL playoff time, and that means it’s playoff beard time!

Please grow this year. Please?
Welp. Here goes nothing. My last shave was at 9:45pm PDT on 14 April, 2015. Please grow this year. Please?

The playoff beard is the primary tradition come playoff time in the NHL for players, but over the last 15 years, the beard-growing has caught on with fans who now do not shave until their team is eliminated. The refusal to shave is a tradition started in the 1980s by the New York Islanders. Those unholy, talented bastards didn’t shave until they were eliminated or won the Stanley Cup, whichever came first. The only team since the Islanders to win the Cup without partaking in the superstitious tradition was the 1994 New York Rangers, who refused to participate in any tradition started by the rival Islanders. (Sorry, Canucks fans, but we can’t just pretend it didn’t happen.) I love this tradition beyond measure, because it’s an annual reminder that I cannot grow any sort of facial hair. Hair grows faster on my nipples than it does on my face. THIS IS A BAD AND EMBARRASSING THING AND YOU’RE WELCOME FOR THE VISUAL.

When I last wrote a Playoff Beard Diary way back in 2012, the Canucks got run out of their first round series in 5 games. NHL owners then decided that they couldn’t stop throwing money at players and locked them out. In retaliation, I boycotted the NHL for two full years; a #RallyBoycott, if you will. My #RallyBoycott clearly impacted the Canucks rather heavily and they did not win a single playoff game during the #RallyBoycott. First they were swept by the dirty, rotten, stinkin’ no-good San Jose Sharks, then they went and joined my protest — they refused to take part in the post-season last year at all!

Nothing of value was missed. Now that the #RallyBoycott is over, the Canucks are in the playoffs again! I guarantee they will win infinitely more playoff games this playoff run than they did in the entire time I refused to watch NHL “action”. Enough about my undeniable powers of witchcraft and sorcery, let’s get to the games.

Series Previews

(Side note: WTF is this new playoff format? I feel like the Denslow Cup Bracket is easier to explain. Could Calgary really get home ice in the second round despite being the overall 8th seed out west? This is the biggest bullshit of all bullshits.)

Eastern Conference

First Round

(M1) New York Rangers v. (WC2) Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins scraped into the playoffs despite Crosby-Malkin-Fleury being the three biggest bums on the planet. I mean, seriously, Sidney, you let Jamie Behn beat you in a scoring race? What a chu. The Rangers went on a massive run to the Presidents’ Trophy despite losing Henrik Lundqvist for an extended period of time. Thank you, Alain Vigneault. AV is, like, the king of Presidents’ Trophies now. NBC has to be happy about this playoff matchup. Every game is guaranteed to receive top billing by the American TV rightsholder.

My heart says: Rangers in 5.
My head says: Rangers in 6.

(A1) Montreal Canadiens v. (WC1) Ottawa Senators
White Rock, BC native Andrew Hammond went from being a below-average AHL goalie to the second coming of Jacques fricking Plante. We’ll find out, I’m sure, that there’s some sort of red pill – blue pill scenario playing out here. Lawrence Fishburne, tell us true, now… Les Habitants are riding a Price that is very Right. (Editor’s note: GROAN.) Carey is far and away the best Canadian goaltender in the world right now. Rogers has to be happy that in the first year of their massive deal, they get five Canadian teams in the playoffs. Now about those terrible voiceovers for intros…

My heart says: Senators in 7
My head says: Canadiens in 6

(A2) Tampa Bay Lightning v. (A3) Detroit Red Wings
Tampa just could not keep pace with Montreal in the final two weeks of the season. The Red Wings keep their two-decade-plus streak of making the playoffs alive, but the margin of error is shrinking. The Lightning get a very favourable matchup in the first round with a depleted Detroit squad. Stevie Y won’t be quite so beloved in Motown if he keeps this up.

My heart says: Lightning in 4
My head says: Lightning in 5

(M2) Washington Capitals v. (M3) New York Islanders
The Islanders were once in position to win the Metropolitan Division, but proceeded to fart away that possibility and went so far as to lose home ice in the first round. (Editor’s note: So THAT’s what the smell at Nassau Coliseum was…) The Capitals ground out a number of wins on the back of the Great 8 and look to erase the memories of recent failures. This should be quite an entertaining matchup that’s heavy on the offense.

My heart says: Islanders in 6
My head says: Capitals in 7.

Western Conference

First Round

(P1) Anaheim Ducks v. (WC2) Winnipeg Jets
Anaheim continues to overcome barely-existent shortfalls in net and has top billing in the West for as long as they’re alive. Winnipeg is also overcoming goaltending issues and they have shown they can win without major names in the lineup, be it from injury or suspension. Please, #SoCalSucks, come true this year.

My heart says: Jets in 6
My head says: Ducks in 5

(C1) St. Louis Blues v. (WC1) Minnesota Wild
The Blues won the division nobody wanted, powering through a weak spot in early March and overtaking Nashville in the final week. Minnesota has been absolutely lights-out since acquiring Devan Dubnyk, riding him hard to their own once-unlikely playoff spot. (Editor’s note: Heh heh. #HockeyPorn.) How much more does Dubnyk have left in him this season?

My heart says: Blues in 6
My head says: Wild in 7

(C2) Nashville Predators v. (C3) Chicago Blackhawks
Over the final ten weeks of the season, the Nashville Predators went from unstoppable juggernaut to invisible, milquetoast enigma. The Chicago Blackhawks were doing okay without an injured Patrick Kane for a while, then reality hit. Nashville and Chicago enter the playoffs on six- and four-game losing streaks, respectively. Someone has to win this series. (Editor’s note: Or DO they? The format this year is, like, weird, dude.)

My heart says: Predators in 6
My head says: Blackhawks in 5

 (P2) Vancouver Canucks v. (P3) Calgary Flames
The overall 8-seed Calgary Flames look to rekindle a rivalry that has been mostly dormant for the better part of a decade. The Vancouver Canucks appear to be worldbeaters one day, and the Worst. Team. Ever. the very next day. The team that makes the least number of defensive mistakes will win this series. Advantage: nobody.

My heart says: Canucks in 6
My head says: Canucks in 7

Premature 2nd round picks… and so on

East

Rangers over Capitals in 5
Lightning over Canadiens in 6

West

Ducks over Canucks in 6
Wild over Blackhawks in 7

East

Lightning over Rangers in 7

West

Wild over Ducks in 6

Stanley Cup Final

Tampa Bay over Minnesota in 7

Conn Smythe: Steven Stamkos

Gameday Predictions

@ Montreal 4, Ottawa 2
@ Washington 5, NY Islanders 3
Chicago 3, @ Nashville 1
@ Vancouver 2, Calgary 1

Episode 59 – The PatQuast

Pat Quinn, may he rest in peace, leaves a massive, Irish imprint upon our community, having changed the course of franchises at the professional, junior and minor levels of hockey in Vancouver. Russell and Jason discuss the big man and give him one last tip of the Pucked in the Head hat. I dig out some audio of an interview I was fortunate enough to conduct with Pat Quinn about a year before his passing. We also discuss the Canucks playoff race, in a timely, timely manner. So timely. Like, mayor of Crazy Town timeliness. Dude. Timely.

• Introduction
• Sofa Surfer Girl by the Orchid Highway
• Russell mails it in
• Linden, Bure, Odjick, this guy influenced a generation of Canucks
• Quinn’s hand in the Vancouver Giants
• Pat Quinn talks about Gordie Howe & Bobby Orr
• Pat Quinn memorial night at Rogers Arena
• Canucks down the stretch
• Time for a Change by the Orchid Highway
• We are professionals

A classy portrait picture of Pat Quinn, 1943–2014.
I was lucky enough to speak with Pat Quinn at Gordie Howe’s 85th birthday event, and he graciously stood for a few portrait photos as well. R.I.P. Pat Quinn — 1943–2014. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Millers having a rough go these days

Even when it comes to injuries, the Miller boys like to play a little game of oneupmanship.

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller has been out with a knee sprain for over a month as the team makes a strong pitch for the playoffs on the back of the affable Eddie Lack.  Ligaments in that area are integral to many a professional sport, granted, but hockey goalies and slalom skiers are especially reliant upon strong, healthy knees. Recuperation needs to be tackled carefully; it’s slow and frustrating, and the potential for re-injury is high.

And while you never wish a serious hurt on a player, you’d take that knee injury 100 times out of 100 over what happened to his little brother the other day.

Drew Miller, a forward with the Red Wings, was involved in an almost literal face-off during a defensive zone puck battle against the Senators on Tuesday night. Ottawa forward Mark Stone was tied up with Detroit centre Luke Glendening; as his body twisted forward over Glendening, who was bent at the waist at the time, Stone’s trailing leg swung upward. His skate caught Miller under the visor, opening a gash from his lower cheek, across the eye to the underside of his eyebrow.

Miller immediately grabbed put his gloves to his face and raced off the ice under his own power, and required 60 stitches to his cheek and eyelid. While he was immediately concerned by the amount of blood and swelling around the eye — and good gravy, who wouldn’t be? — it appears at this early stage that the eye itself wasn’t damaged. People in the Miller family and around the hockey world are breathing a sigh of relief today. This injury could have been much, much worse.

And, good hockey playin’ lad that he is, the bastard is going to play against the Bruins tonight.

The slow motion video is downright scary to watch, especially if you have kids who play the game.

Episode 58 – One-timers

We introduce One-Timers, a new podcast segment wherein Pucked in the Head talks about several timely topics in the news, then promptly takes a week to post the episode to iTunes.

• Intro
• Sofa Surfer Girl by the Orchid Highway
• Jason can’t skate
• Milos Raonic unlocks the Beat Rafa Nadal badge
• Cceci n’est pas une pipe
• Jason plays Nostradamus
• March Madness exists
• Buenos noches, Steve Nash
• Wayne Gretzky transformed hockey, bless his record-breaking soul
• Steve Nash is awesome, but he couldn’t have saved the Grizzlies
• Steve Nash, Simon Whitfield, what’s in the water over there?
• We really ought to do some research
• Nike Academy — will corporations name teams in the future?
• Corporate logos already abound
• Time for a Change by the Orchid Highway
• Smell my shoe

 

Hey. YOU do our Photoshop next time.
Hey. YOU do our Photoshop next time.

100 years? [Insert Leafs joke here]

It’s been a full century since Vancouver won a Stanley Cup. On March 26, 1915, the Denman Arena saw the Vancouver Millionaires, led by Fred “Cyclone” Taylor,  complete a three-game sweep over the Ottawa Senators for the city’s only claim to hockey’s holy grail. One hundred years later, the Vancouver Canucks will wear their maroon tribute jerseys against the Colorado Avalanche.

Team picture of the 1914 Vancouver Millionaires
The Millionaires are famously the only Vancouver team to win the Stanley Cup, which they did in 1915. Note the one player in the back row wearing an earlier version of the jersey. Archive photo retrieved from an AskJeeves search.

The Canucks have made three trips to the finals since their NHL debut in 1970, but have come up short each time. The first was in 1982, a four-game sweep at the hands Al Arbour’s mighty New York Islanders. The second and third, in 1994 and 2011, both went to seventh and deciding games that went to the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins respectively. That leaves the 1915 champs the only ones to have the word ‘Vancouver’ inscribed into Lord Stanley’s chalice.

Hockey Hall of Famer Frank Patrick wearing the 1913 Vancouver Millionaires uniform.
Frank Patrick pioneered the blue line, the penalty shot and the idea of dressing a backup goaltender. He was also a huge early force in establishing women’s hockey on the West Coast. I don’t know about you folks, but I truly dig using bones to make the Vancouver V. (Also, dock skates!) Archive photo gleaned from a Bing search.

 

Roberto Luongo, Tom Sestito and Daniel Sedin in Vancouver Millionaires heritage uniforms.
Many suggest that Roberto Luongo would still be in Vancouver had John Tortorella started him for the 2014 Heritage Classic at BC Place. Even during the game, Lu was leaning his way out of town, and Daniel was all, “I canNOT believe we didn’t play him.” Seriously. Tom Sestito skated in the Heritage Classic, but Roberto Luongo did not. Way to go, Torts. Hilarious bench photo stolen from a Cuil search.

 

Roberto Luongo wearing his Vancouver Millionaires heritage mask.
Swipe right, Torts, swipe RIGHT!

 

Giants set for home finale

The Vancouver Giants end their 2014-15 season this weekend with a home-and-home against Kelowna, the top team in the Western Conference. While the Giants are out of the playoff picture thanks to a nine-game losing skid down the stretch, the Rockets have been on auto-pilot the past six weeks or so in preparation for a long playoff run.

Get ticket information for Friday night’s game here.

Cody Porter has had good games and bad, but you can't place all the blame for the Giants season on his rookie shoulders. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the head.
Cody Porter has had good games and bad, but you can’t place all the blame for the Giants season on his rookie shoulders. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the head.

It was a roller coaster year for the Giants, who came out of the gate flying before losing 18 of 24 games under Troy G Ward. Replacement coach Claude Noel seemed to buoy the team nicely — a new bench boss often has an invigorating effect — and with four weeks left in the year they’d managed to scrape themselves into a playoff spot.

Click here for a slideshow of photos from WHL action.

Continue reading Giants set for home finale

Episode 57 — The peanut butter mullet, a do as old as time

A podcast episode in which Rusell and Jason ride the peanut butter mullet wave of Jaromir Jagr’s career into a discussion of the Canucks, ex-Canucks and Canucks that never were.

• Introduction
• Sofa Surfer Girl by the Orchid Highway
• False start / Rubber Ducky
• Jaromir Jagr’s 8th NHL team
• Holy hairstyles, this guy has scored a ton of points
• Whence the scoring after the twins & Vrbata?
• The Canucks 2nd power play unit is embarrassing
• Vrbata probably won’t make 30 goals
• No Cup since 1967 — Russell blames Phil Kessel
• Thanks to CIVL Radio
• Time for a Change by the Orchid Highway

The travelling Jagrs in their mulletted glory (pictured here before New Jersey or Florida were in the mix). Photo pinched from an Ask Jeeves search.
The travelling Jagrs in their mulletted glory (pictured here before New Jersey or Florida were in the mix). Photo pinched from an Ask Jeeves search.

 

A gimme for the Game of Thrones marketing people

Just prior to last week’s Stadium Series — which saw the LA Kings continue their remarkable second-half winning streak with a 2-1 decision over the mysteriously mediocre San Jose Sharks — one of the Levi’s Stadium webcams got a jealous visit from a territorial black bird. No, not Patrick Kane. C’mon, Game of Thrones people. This footage is a freakin’ freebie.

As for the game, it was all right I suppose. Both of these teams can play something resembling hockey when you give them the chance. The Kings, after eight wins in nine tries, now sit third in the Pacific Division, tied with the Calgary Flames with a game in hand. The Sharks are going the other way — they’ve got just seven points in their last ten games.

Whatever. Even on a balmy California night, I don’t see the appeal behind paying a premium to sit in a baseball stadium to watch puck. The front row is hundreds of feet from the boards, for crying out loud.

Photoshop mangling by Jason Kurylo, who sobbed, 'I could work in film and television post production, I just know I could.'
Photoshop mangling by Jason Kurylo, who sobbed, ‘I could work in film and television post production, I just know I could.’

Episode 56 – Torts, Milos, French girls & grapefruit

Russell & I trade semi-researched factoids for the second time in short order, getting into John Tortorella’s recent soul searching on Tampa radio. In an attempt to show something reminiscent of range, we stretch into Davis Cup tennis and trade two dozen words in French.

• Intro
• Sofa Surfer Girl by the Orchid Highway
• I’m fatigued
• Où sont les pamplemousses?
• John Tortorella is Yoda
• Willie’s ahead of Torts so far
• Davis Cup coming back to UBC
• Daniel Nestor ages not
• Eugenie Bouchard’s legs are all Photoshop
• NHL DOPS: Dmitry Kulikov gets four games
• Time for a Change by the Orchid Highway

"Oh yeah? Well I know I was wrong! How do you like THEM apples?"
“Oh yeah? Well I know I was wrong! How do you like THEM apples?”