The NHL playoffs are underway - with anomalies such as "Penguins" dominating "Senators" and mere "Canadiens" (not even lumberjacks - but some goons on ice, yes) outmuscling "Bruins" in the first two days of action...
Other things though make perfect sense to me: Sharks tanking in their own tank from the get-go, foreshadowing what will happen to them before long; ageless wonder Joe Sakic still finding a way to get it done... To name but two!
But really now - the long grind that begins anew here is both overrated and blown way out of proportions.
These playoffs are supposed to be an epic battle that lasts for two months (for those two teams that luck out, really - ask any NHL player you want, LUCK is a huge factor in all this process) and they pretend to be willing to kill in order to win...
The only player who truly ever was willing to kill was one Phil Esposito in 1972 - and it wasn't while winning the Stanley Cup in Boston that he was so inclined, it was while playing the Russians for the very first time, as a part of team Canada! Yes, it's not just hockey that brings out the worst in you; it's also senseles out-of-control patriotism, lumping together all Russians under clichéd tags such as "commies" and being together with "the guys" for too long - it all contributes. Ah, and let us not forget the beer. The beer turns the most mild-mannered gentleman there is into a brute with no manners at all in two pitchers flat - or less than that! But that is another sad story - onwards with my sad NHL playoffs-related stories now!
Winning isn't everything - if it was, the New York Rangers would be making much less than they already are, without having won a thing! They already have all the perks, without the darn "Cup" to parade around - and, even if they did get a hold of it, the feat would be forgotten in a New York minute, so...
Yet, every guy claims to be "nothing" without it - and all that they've done during a long 82-game schedule to be "as nothing" in comparison with the thrill of wearing out four opponents over the course of, usually, 24-28 games... (No one will ever win the Cup in 16 games - PARITY rules in the league now!)
Old-timers would be willing to... mutilate if not kill per say in order to get one last crack at winning one - or another one, as the case may be...
The Red Wings, for instance, have not just one ageless wonder like Sakic (Lidstrom is the same age - and, at 38, players are deemed to be quite old indeed!)
No, the Wings have a dinosaur between the pipes AND a 46-year-old Chris Chelios to boot... 46, man alive - the guy is ANCIENT! In athletic circles, yes... And yet these old goats still want it - bad!
"I believe playoffs are the fountain of youth," said Mike Babcock, the Red Wings coach. "If you watch some of these 40-something and 30-something players in October, it's not very pretty. Sometimes, it's not even that pretty in February." And the truth is, it gets downright ugly in the playoffs too, now isn't that true, coach?
Around this time of year, I always think back to 1991-1992... And Badger Bob! Now there was an old-goat who wanted it REAL BAD... He was willing to do just about anything to get it done too - which is why I do not have an ounce of respect for the so-called achievements of the guy!
Badger Bob was a true dinosaur, coaching the way they did in the movie SLAP SHOT - and THAT sure isn't pretty. Though it might be deemed entertaining, by some... Me, I still can't believe Paul Newman did that movie and he's ashamed of an earlier film instead of this one... But I digress...
Back in the 1991 playoffs, Bob's Pittsburgh Penguins were being dominated on the scoresheet AND in physical play by ONE SINGLE MAN: Cam Neely.
So what did Badger Bob do? He dispatched a coward named Ulf to end Cam Neely's dominance, season and inadvertently career, by injuring him in the wheels and from behind. You sure can't keep on SKATING when you have your legs taken out from underneath you, now can you?
Like him or not, good ol' Badger Bob knew his fundamentals!
I wonder why today's coaches don't go for the jugular like that anymore! Claude Julien should dispatch Shawn Thornton to run over Carey Price and lay him out! But Julien may have his heart still in his old stomping grounds from way back; that would explain certain things... A lot of things, actually! Somebody in Ottawa should clamor for the head of Sid The Kid - but no such "most wanted" notice will ever be served by the much-reserved Bryan Murray - ever.
But are these new kids (Price, Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, etc) to be off-limits and therefore far better protected than the great Cam Neely was?
Once again, it is in Neely's own town that the answer seems to come from: judging by what happened to Patrice Bergeron, it seems to be negative! But that was not, of course, an insidious plot to nullify the superior competition; it was merely run-of-the-mill everyday NHL rough play...!
The Washington Capitals' Alexander Ovechkin expects just that in his first-ever NHL playoffs.
"What can I do? If they want to hit me, hit me. I don't care. .... It's the playoffs. No friends on the ice," he said.
Surely he hopes no one will come at him from behind to injure him in a serious way, on purpose, though...!
What happened to the good old TRAP? It's boring, it's hum-drum dump-and-chase stuff on ice - but nobody gets hurt! The competition gets frustrated though - big time! However, the end result is the kind of result that we should always have: it is BRAINS over BRAWN! Good coaching systems advocates triumphing over neanderthals whom they nullify into submission the intelligent way! But it cannot be the favored method in a majority of rinks because it kills the show, the NHL already cannot afford to lose any fans and, besides, it is not a league where finesse is truly esteemed... If it was, there would be no need for enforcers on each team; when a great player is scoring goal after goal, he would not become a "target" either... Coaches would think of opposing their defensive specialists against those prolific scorers, in utter and complete fair play devoid of any underhanded tactics, and vice-versa - so that the fan gets to witness an offensive festival with tons of goals being scored... Too bad for the goalies' G.A.A. - but somebody has to give them up, eh?
I think back to the year where the Bruins were devoid of BOTH Ray Bourque AND Cam Neely - I believe that was 1992.
Rick Bowness was coaching the Bruins - where is he NOW...?!?
Bowness proved to be Bowman-like against the... Montreal Canadiens that year, yes. He put the Canadiens to sleep, brilliantly coaching a team without its top stars but with rock solid grinders and workers, and the Boston Bruins wound up sweeping the Canadiens in four straight games.
Guys like Jim Wiemer performed like a Nicklas Lidstrom in that series!
There is no way an Aaron Ward today, or Andrew Ference, Dennis Wideman or Zdeno Chara cannot repeat what a Jim Wiemer accomplished back then - no way!
It's really all a question of believing it to be possible. Mind over matter - seems cliché too, but it really is true. If you believe you can stop every single puck that comes your way, you will do much better than if you think the opposite! Tim Thomas is as good as Andy Moog - come on!
Quoting NHL players is not half as much fun as quoting anons - especially anons such as the one who penned this one: "Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible." No one can argue with that!
Ultimately though, aside from certain bonuses they could cash in and a momentary bit of euphoria, every player on the Boston Bruins and all 15 other clubs in the quest for the Stanley Cup will not alter their destiny much by believing it can be done and effectively "achieving the impossible"...
If they're bound to get a big contract (with the New York Rangers, probably) - they will still get it, whether they win or lose.
All the more reason to wind up quoting only one guy, in closing: and that is myself!
Back in 1986, when I really didn't know any better, I still came up with the most fundamental truth the rough NHL can ever attract! I rooted for the Boston Bruins and wanted them to get over the hump, especially where it pertained to their bad luck when facing the Montreal Canadiens. Two short years later, in the 1988 playoffs to be specific, a new era began in which the Bruins dominated the Canadiens each time they played! That was, of course, the Cam Neely era! Joe Thornton came and ruined it even more than Neely's retiring ever could - but that's not important right now... What is important, is my phrase! I acted detached (today, I am more than truly detached!) and I came up with this nonchalant cool saying to utter at every turn, see...? You may repeat it too, as a mantra, these days in which the pre-1988 curse seems to be back on...
"WIn or lose, Bruins will bruise!"
Hey - it's what the NHL's good at, RIGHT?
--LucXV 09:21, 11 April 2008 (UTC)