Category Archives: Hockey

10 Sports Films You Should Watch If You Have Actual Taste

Yesterday, my good friend Jason Kurylo demonstrated just how wrong he can be at times: he published a list of the ten sports movies that you really ought to re-watch. The post’s purpose was the same as all posts of that nature: to make people argue with the author. So argue with him I shall. Cool Runnings, Jason? COOL RUNNINGS?? Continue reading 10 Sports Films You Should Watch If You Have Actual Taste

Ten films you should watch again

I wanted to be up in North Vancouver this morning, checking out the view from Hollyburn Country Club and shooting media day pictures for the Odlum Brown Vancouver Open Tennis Tournament. Alas, I’m at home nursing a later summer cold and flicking my way through a variety of on demand movie listings.

So here’s my list of Ten sports films you should watch again. I invite your commentary, your judgement and your suggestions. I obviously haven’t given a definitive list here, but let’s be clear: I’ll be damned if anyone makes me sit through Slap Shot ever again. Why so many people like that load of unadulterated shite is just beyond me.

Continue reading Ten films you should watch again

Spaghetti, anyone?

In an age of hyper marketing, intense competition and tightly controlled PR, it’s amazing that truly horrible ideas can still make it past the brainstorming stage. Whether it’s the nightmare of design by committee or just a conflagration of mediocre talents pulling the wool over the eyes of out of touch rich CEOs, we occasionally see awful designs rolled out in an underwhelming explosion of anticlimax. We analyze the Canucks’ latest trip to the cash trough with today’s edition of Somebody Approved This.

The act of going retro is, like, so yesterday.

Still, the Vancouver Canucks will break out the ol’ spaghetti jerseys on February 13 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of no longer wearing these black and orange abominations the opening of Rogers Arena. It’s a great excuse to laugh at the Toronto Maple Leafs, who lost a five-game Conference Finals to those awfully dressed Vancouver Canucks back in 1994, but then again the Leafs will only have to see these damned things once. We of Lotusland will have to see a renewed population of black-and-gold fashion faux pas for years to freaking come.

Pavel Bure and Trevor Linden wore spaghetti well. That doesn't mean others should be subjected to it. Photos garnered from various interweb searches.
Pavel Bure and Trevor Linden wore spaghetti well. That doesn’t mean others should be subjected to it. Photos garnered from various interweb searches.

 
Continue reading Spaghetti, anyone?

Commence the countdown to hockey season

If July 1 brings talk of trades, arbitration and free agent contracts, then August 1 is when hockey fans get down to the serious business of being impatient pricks on Twitter.

Goodbye, Bonino Phone

Brandon Sutter is the newest Canuck, and the latest victim of attacks from Vancouver hockey fans. Gregory Shamus photo cribbed from a Bing image search.
Brandon Sutter is the newest Canuck, and the latest victim of attacks from Vancouver hockey fans. Gregory Shamus photo cribbed from a Bing image search.

The Canucks sent Nick Bonino and prospect Adam Clendening to Pittsburgh for career third-liner Brandon Sutter. On the whole, people in Vancouver were not happy. Imagine the sadness emanating from the Raffi household, for example. There just wasn’t time to record that Boninophone track that dammit should have happened no matter what you say, and BOOM, the Canucks essentially traded Ryan Kesler to the Ducks for Brandon Sutter’s 3rd line minutes.

Of course, once Bob McKenzie confirmed the trade, hand-wringing, hair-pulling and all-around whinging ramped up in seconds.

YVR haters don’t even stop when a player leaves the Vancouver roster. Ex-Canuck and Scrabble aficionado Tanner Glass takes one on the jaw in chart form: the Glass-to-Crosby scale, based on production vs possession, favours the Penguins. Fancy stats people tend to dislike Sutter, generally speaking.

Cooler heads made an appearance, too. (Jeez, I can’t believe I’m on the same side as Tony Gallagher on this one. The difference? I make more hockey-related supporting arguments in 121 characters than ol’ Radio Face does in 500 words.)

As always, the jury is out until we see results on the ice. But let’s be honest: the Vancouver Canucks are not going to play an entertaining, up-tempo brand of firewagon hockey, a la 2011. Brandon Sutter gives them some consistent sandpaper, however, to compete against a never-say-die Flames squad and those dirty, rotten, stinkin’ bastards who call themselves the Anaheim Ducks.

Current crop of Canucks lacking personality

Vancouver fans are still stinging from the dump of Eddie Lack’s meagre salary.  Do I think he’s a number one goalie? No. Should he have been given away for meaningless late draft picks? No way, Jose. There goes our boy Ed showing off his new pads, which alas feature the Carolina Toilet Flush:

For those who don’t like to gram the insta (did I do that right?), those pads look like this:

Eddie Lack introduced his new Carolina Hurricanes pads via Twitter and Instagram.
Eddie Lack introduced his new Carolina Hurricanes pads via Twitter and Instagram.

How many goalies will paint the Great Wall on their masks?

The 2022 Winter Olympiad will be held in Beijing, which means the NHL will be under more pressure to extend its agreement to allow players to play for Olympic gold. There’s so much money involved in China, both above board and under the table, that not even Gary Bettman can let ego get in the way of a deal.

If you thought Puck Daddy’s Jersey Fouls posts were entertaining before, wait until you see a generation of new fans wearing counterfeit Team USA Crosby sweaters.

I only hope Dave Bidini, he of the wonderful book Tropic of Hockey, gets a piece of the action somehow. Outside of ex-pat teachers lacing up the skates in backwater rinks of Mongolia, ol’ Dave was the first person to give hockey in Asia any serious attention.

The 2022 Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing, China. I hope Dave Bidini gets a piece of the action. Photo cribbed from a Sports Illustrated article.
The 2022 Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing, China. I hope Dave Bidini gets a piece of the action. Photo cribbed from a Sports Illustrated article.

Episode 070: the Canucks are bleeding out

Russell and Jason go with off-season hockey for episode 70: mostly Canucks stuff, but we throw some Brandon Saad and Phil Kessel in there for good measure. Bonus CanCon with Trooper hitting up the outro track.

  • Introduction
  • Sofa Surfer Girl by the Orchid Highway
  • Scars, plasma and exposed dermis, oh my!
  • Canucks bleeding out
  • Sell low, buy pretty much nothing
  • So long Eddie, so long Shawn, so long Juice
  • Vancouver media and their goldfish attention sp…
  • Prust is trade bait at the deadline
  • What about Ryan Miller & the twins?
  • Brandon Saad gets PAID
  • Will Phil Kessel finally hit 40 goals?
  • Three Dressed Up as a Nine by Trooper
  • Thanks for Listening

Adios, Mr Kassian. May your IQ be always in your favour.

Ex-Canucks forward Zack Kassian is an ugly man. Photo stolen without shame from a Pinterest page devoted to ol' Zack.
Ex-Canucks forward Zack Kassian is an ugly man. Photo stolen without shame from a Pinterest page devoted to ol’ Zack.

Is decor a dirty word?

My most prized bit of sports decor: a framed 8x10 of Hall of Fame goaltender Gerald Michael "Cheesey" Cheevers. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
My most prized bit of sports decor: a framed 8×10 of Hall of Fame goaltender Gerald Michael “Cheesey” Cheevers. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

I like my sports stuff. Photos, cards, jerseys… you name it, I’ve got a few. My favourite piece for years has been an 8×10 Gerry Cheevers signed for me when he was in town for a Vancouver Giants Legends Night— dude, CHEEVERS! Two Stanley Cups, the 1974 Canada Cup, a stint in the WHA, and that iconic mask, are you kidding me? This guy is the very epitome of old timey hockey. He’s even got his own three-chord proto-punk song, for crying out loud.

Mrs Pucked in the Head isn’t so wild about having 8x10s and pucks littered about the place, however, even if they have been scribbled upon by ageing professional athletes. I have to pick and choose what goes up on the wall, and what goes into storage. (Sure, I’m a sucker for cutesy pictures of our daughter, but we’ve got plenty of those photos around the rest of the house. I can moon over her adorableness in just about any other room, at pretty much any time, so I stamp this room with my own personal clutter, thank you very much.)

Probably the prettiest medal I've earned so far came from the 2014 Rock n Roll Vancouver half marathon. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Probably the prettiest medal I’ve earned so far came from the 2014 Rock n Roll Vancouver half marathon. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Since I started running last year, for example, I’ve managed to assemble a fistful of finisher medals from 10k races, half marathons and that one bloody full marathon I did back in May. Throw a few of those on the curtain rod, and they look all right. Add some hockey memorabilia and a small collection of tribal masks acquired during various vacations, and you’ve got a cosy little office space.

Continue reading Is decor a dirty word?

Tate Olson, Vancouver Canucks draftee

Here’s photographic evidence that Tate Olson indeed plays the game of hockey. He was selected 210th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Tate Olson, 210th selection in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.
Tate Olson was selected 210th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

Hawks in five

The Stanley Cup final promises to be one of the most entertaining in years. The Chicago Blackhawks are on the verge of their third Stanley Cup win in six years, which would put them as close to unlocking the dynasty achievement badge as we’re likely to see a team get in our lifetimes. Good lord, look at the roster: there are four legitimate Hall of Fame candidates in their top six alone. Across the ice, Steven Stamkos wants to cement legend status by winning his first; it may be surprising scoring machine Tyler Johnson, and not the suddenly clutch goaltender Ben Bishop, who gets him that ring.

Jonathan Toews and Steven Stamkos go head to head in the 2015 Stanley Cup final. Images wontonly stolen from the interweb.
Jonathan Toews and Steven Stamkos go head to head in the 2015 Stanley Cup final. Images wontonly stolen from the interweb.

Both teams had ten players score in double digits in 2014-15, and both teams had dominant goal differentials (Tampa was second overall at +51, while Chicago’s +40 was fourth). The season series was split at a win apiece, with the Hawks taking an overtime 3-2 decision and the Lightning shutting out Chicago 4-0. Keep in mind that second game took place just after Patrick Kane fractured his clavicle; Bishop likely won’t be earning many more shutouts in this series.

Forwards — advantage Hawks

The Bolts were the top team in scoring this year. Stamkos had 43 goals by himself, while Johnson and Nikita Kucherov each added 29.  After the top line, fans outside the Atlantic Division may ask themselves, “Who the hell is that?” — Cedric Paquette and Alex Killorn aren’t exactly household names — but suffice it to say that this is a team with a few mid-grade weapons at its disposal. That said, the bottom six has contributed just one goal out of the past 20 for the Lightning.

The Hawks have Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp to throw over the boards. They’re tired? How about Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards, or playoff performer extraordinaire Andrew Shaw? This team may not have led the league in scoring — they were 16th overall, in fact — but they know how to score when it counts, and they’ve only gotten stronger as a unit as the playoffs have gone on. Witness the complete Game Seven shutdown of the vaunted Anaheim Ducks roster. Check Toews’ insistence upon dominating important games.

Clutch.

Defensemen — advantage Hawks

Duncan Keith was insane in the final two games against the Ducks. He saw nearly 28 minutes of ice in that exhaustingly intense Game Seven, and remember this is a series that saw two looooooooong overtime games early on. Niklas Hjalmarsson wasn’t far behind at 26:45, and in fact the Hawks rely pretty damned heavily upon their big top four. Brent Seabrook and Johnny Oduya were both over 23 minutes.

On the other side, Victor Hedmanand Anton Stralman  are the only men getting even close to this kind of ice time. Jason Garrison and Matt Carle hover around the 20-minute mark, but lose their effectiveness should they be asked to up that substantially. These guys are good depth blueliners — look at Garrison’s number five spot when he played in Vancouver — but lack the footspeed and game smarts to deal with Chicago’s wave-upon-wave of finesse-laden attack.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender and Mayberry mayoral candidate Ben Bishop
I’m sure Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender and Mayberry mayoral candidate Ben Bishop is a nice fella, but does this look like a Cup winner to you?

Goaltending — advantage Bolts

Herein lies Tampa Bay’s best chance at a second championship in franchise history. Ben Bishop had far fewer hiccoughs than highlights; Corey Crawford, on the glove hand, too often relies upon that stable of scorers to outshine his bad nights.  Good grief, he let in nearly three goals a game against the Ducks. If Stamkos & Co. get in his head, this series — and thus the Cup —could go south in a hurry.

Coaching — advantage Hawks

There are cookie crumbs in Joel Quenneville’s moustache  that have been behind an NHL bench longer than Jon Cooper. Sure, the latter presents Jon Cooper’s story, but Coach Q’s duster has kissed two Cups and a Jack Adams award. Quenneville is the winningest coach among active bench bosses — not including playoff totals, he has 653 more NHL wins than Cooper. Look, I’m not saying anything bad against the new guy. It’s just that, well, Q has been there. Coops has read about it. You’ve gotta go with the experience.

Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks in 5.
Conn Smythe: Duncan Keith

Blackhawks in 5.

Chicago Blackhawks versus Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2016 Stanley Cup final.
The Chicago Blackhawks will win their third Stanley Cup in six years when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning this week.

Episode 67: Babcock, Russians and Brian Burke’s ego

Russell and Jason wax poetic on a range of hockey topics, from Mike Babcock’s monster contract to Brian Burke’s monster ego and Ilya Kovalchuk’s monster cajones.

• Introduction
• Pop Tart Girl by the Orchid Highway
• The Russians have left the ice
• McKayla is unimpressed with Ilya Kovalchuk
• Kudos to Alex Ovechkin
• Mike Babcock is a Leaf. What a shocker
• Kessel & Phaneuf, your days are numbered
• Brian Burke, one ego to rule them all
• Will there be apotheosis for Babs in T-dot?
• Who will be GM?
• The Wreck of the Maple Leafs Season — a parody by Peter Gross

Even McKayla Maroney was unimpressed with the Russians' lack of sportsmanship at the recent World Championships.
Even McKayla Maroney was unimpressed with the Russians’ lack of sportsmanship at the recent World Championships.

Round two: PITH predictions

We at Pucked in the Head don’t hang our heads in shame and tears just because the Vancouver Canucks had their behinds handed to them by the low-down, dirty, rotten, head-shottin’, potshottin’, ball-droppin’ Flames. Nay, we hold our heads high and own our team’s decades-long failure to bring a Cup to the west coast. At least we’re not the bloody Leafs, right?

And so, we put our heads together and prognosticate the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for your scoffing pleasure.

New York Rangers vs Washington Capitals
Jason:
Kudos to the Capitals for skirting past the New York Islanders, but even with Alex Ovechkin honouring defensive assignments they won’t have enough to get past the Vigneault-led Blueshirts. Lundqvist outsaves Braden Holtby in a series whose brevity belies hard-fought games. Rangers in five.

Chris: If there’s anything to indicate that Washington can take New York in a best-of-seven, I haven’t seen it. The Rangers steamrolled Pittsburgh and then took the weekend off while the Islanders gave the Caps all they could handle. (That’s right: Eleven shots on goal is about all the Capitals could handle.) Ovechkin may be the best player in this series, but New York is deeper, and Alain Vigneault shouldn’t even need a full pack of lozenges to out-coach Barry Trotz. Rangers in five.

Montreal Canadiens vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Chris: 
Should be a barn-burner. The Lightning netted a whopping 41 more goals than the Habs during the regular season, but Montreal’s defence was much stronger. On recent form, my money goes to Tampa. They dispatched Detroit without a single goal from Steven Stamkos, and you can only hold that man off the score sheet for so long. Meanwhile, the Canadiens were lucky to get past Ottawa in a game six where a referee’s untimely whistle cost the Sens a tying goal in a contest they dominated. Lightning in seven.

Jason: Kudos to the Bolts for getting past the ageing wreck of a Red Wings team that barely made the post-season. I mean, the Wings have only been mired in a Mike Babcock will-he-or-won’t-he story all year long, and got to Game Seven on the strength of a handful of nobodies ruddering a ship full of greybeards. The Habs, on the other hand, have been the class of the East for a couple of seasons, boast perennial candidates for the Norris and Vezina trophies, and ride the winds of the most powerfully emotional fan support in North American sport. Individually, what’s not to love about seeing PK Subban flatten Steven Stamkos? These guys have been playing hockey against each other for twenty years already, and damned if it ain’t more fun every year. Canadiens in six.

Anaheim Ducks vs Calgary Flames
Jason: 
Do we really have to talk about this? Where the Canucks and Flames both exceeded expectations by just making the dance in the first place, the Ducks have been promising a deep run for years. Getzlaf, Kesler, Perry, Beauchemin, Fowler… This roster is deeper than any of the wrinkles walking into Botox clinics around the Honda Center. The Flames are hard-working, sure, but they’re just a bunch of Grade Eight boys hanging about in the corner, ogling the good looking seniors across the gymnasium floor. Ducks in two and a half.

Chris: Seeing the Flames in the second round is enough to make me want to vomit like I’d just eaten undercooked fowl. Undercooked, by the way, is exactly what I expect these particular fowl to be at the end of the Pacific Division Final. The Flames are a terrible possession team, and their luck won’t get them close enough to roast the Ducks. The Saddledome crowd helps Hiller steal one from his old team, but Ducks in five.

Chicago Blackhawks vs Minnesota Wild
Chris: 
Devan Dubnyk has been outstanding, but I’m not convinced he can hold off the Hawks’ firepower. Both teams have high-end defencemen that can do a number on the opposition’s top line, but the Wild lack the offensive depth that Chicago has in spades. One ray of hope for Minnesota: Corey Crawford is in net, and Chicago conceded 21 goals to a similarly dubious offensive team in Nashville. The goaltending disparity will keep the series interesting, but Chicago outscores its problems. Hawks in six.

Jason: The Chicago Blackhawks have somehow flown under most people’s radars this season. Jeez Louise, people, this team is full of all-Stars, Olympians and beauties who fuckin’ work their nuts off, and has won two of the past five Stanley Cups. As for the Wild, Thomas Vanek has been promising to do something important in the playoffs for years, but hasn’t helped a team win anything since the 2003 Golden Gophers took the NCAA championship. Maybe it’s unfair to saddle the guy with his teams’ lack of success, but damnation, does this guy ever know how to pull a disappearing act in the post-season. Ryan Suter can’t do everything, man. Hawks in five.