Monday, April 14, 2008

Now That Was a Day of Hockey

Friends, I'm not going to lie. While I absolutely wish the Sabres were in the playoffs, I'm kind of enjoying the postseason without them. It's so nice to watch a game and pick a team to root for but not care enough about that team winning that I'm a devastated emotional mess when they don't. And what a great day for hockey! Today was full of good, bad, and ugly.

First up, the bad and the ugly, the Devils vs. the Rangers. Tonight's game was the first one from this series that I've been able to watch but I told you no one with a soul could cheer for the Rangers. Sean Avery's display today was just ridiculous. Here's video for anyone who missed it but basically Avery stood face-to-face with Marty Brodeur, turning his back completely on the play, and waved his hands in Marty's face like a third grader would. Seriously, the only thing missing was him sticking his tongue out and singing "na na na na boo boo, stick your head in doo doo." I understand that Avery has a job to do and part of that is getting under people's skin but this was so far beyond anything I've ever seen. It was immature, obnoxious, and the very epitome of unsportsmanlike conduct. He was completely ignoring the play, he was in no position to tip in a shot or tie up a defender. He was just being a first class, grade A jackass. I was pretty annoyed with the Versus broadcast for pumping him up all night and then ignoring the level of douchebaggery of that play but thank goodness CBC got it right (also in the linked video). Ron MacLean called it dishonorable and cited a rule that he would've used to level a ten minute misconduct for unsportsmanlike behavior and Kelly Hrudey agreed and said that it had no place in the game. Seriously, that display goes against everything I love about playoff hockey. Guys like Brendan Shanahan and Chris Drury should be chewing his ass out even as I type this for that. I realize "honor" is a tough concept for Avery but get a little, why don't you?

(Oh, I had this whole paragraph here about how awesome it was that replays showed Drury skate over and give Avery a little shove which had us all speculating that he was telling Avery to cut the crap and pay attention to the play and how even though I'm not as distraught over his departure as some people I did think it was really cool of him to do that and how it seemed very in character and indicative of how much he always seemed to respect the game and the people on the ice with him but then NHL Network isolated the play and zoomed in on Drury and it turns out that what he was actually saying was, "Stick down" which isn't nearly as endearing.)

Fortunately, the Devils won and the Hockey Gods saw fit to pour even more manna from heaven in the late game between Calgary and San Jose. Usually I kind of hate when an organization tries to get the crowd to all wear one color but the Calgary crowd really looked amazing. Not only were they all wearing red, almost everyone appeared to be wearing jerseys. Those people are hardcore! When the camera panned up some and you could see three or four rows of solid jerseys it was a very cool effect. Which is why it seemed so cruel that the Sharks scored a goal a minute for the first three minutes and chased Kipper out of net. Kipper, who had a kick ass game in their loss a couple of nights ago!

And then everything started to turn. I'll admit, I don't always buy "That hit turned the game around!" but geez, that hit on Patrick Marleau really did change the momentum of the game. The Flames were clearly picking up steam and the Sharks were clearly panicking which is something I guess they're familiar with. With all apologies to the Sharks fans of the world, watching Calgary claw their way back into the game in front of their backup goaltender with the crowd getting more and more crazy as time went on was pretty awesome, an example of sports at its very finest. Watching a team and its fans feed off of each other like that is always a little breath-taking. It seems ridiculous that 18,000 people could care that much about who puts more pucks in a net and it seems ridiculous that professional athletes who get paid a lot of money to do what they do could be that inspired by strangers rooting them on but as ridiculous as it may be, I think it's beautiful and I don't care how stupid some people probably think that sounds.

And I'm not going to lie. Brian Campbell being in the thick of things made it even better. He was playing his particular brand of "I'll just stand back here and wave at the shooter" defense on the game-winning goal and he did a totally needless spin-o-rama and turned over the puck right in front of his net which oh by way, had NO GOALIE IN IT. Uh, Brian... There's less than a minute left in the game and your team kind of needs a goal. Maybe you should pass the puck up the ice or chip it off the glass or something. If Alex Tanguay hadn't tanked the shot, he'd have looked even dumber. I'm sure we'll get video of that spin-o-rama up on Sabres Edge, right? Right? I mean, we miss Campbell and want to wallow in all his highlights, right? Again, with apologies to Sharks fans and bloggers, it's been kind of entertaining watching them go from, "Campbell is awesome!" to "Wait... I thought this guy was a #1 defenseman." I feel triumphant!

I am exhausted by hockey right now and I love it!

Flame on! (Photo by Mike Ridewood/Getty Images)


Anonymous said...

Brian Campbell and Doug Murray were out there for three of the four Flames goals against, including Nolan's winner.


ElmaGolf said...

As usual, we're in mind-meld! Watched the first 5 minutes of the Flames / Skarks, and said to my fiancee "Wow, that game's over in a hurry!" But stuck around just long enough to see the hit, and first goal. Decided to DVR it in case I fell asleep (I always do) and was pleasantly surprised this morning.

Right up there with the failed Spin-O-Rama was Campbell's perfect screen on the winning goal after he "Ole'd" on Nolan in the corner.

I'm sure we'll get video of that spin-o-rama up on Sabres Edge, right? Right? I mean, we miss Campbell and want to wallow in all his highlights, right?

No, but we may have an article how Corey Sarich is just another example of how the Sabres let talent slip away (never mind that he became Derek Roy & Danny Briere). Or how the Sabres probably should have signed Curtis Joseph instead of Thibault (Anyone with an ounce of hockey knowledge....)

I'm waiting for Sully to clarify that he wrote leader-rich teams with Brian Campbell and Mike Grier don't give up TWO goal leads (he never said anything about THREE goal leads).

Also didn't notice specific mention of the Briere-led Flyers giving up a 2 goal 3rd period lead.

Bucky's got to be DYING - Drury has 0 pts, 0 assists in 3 games and was 12 for 43 on faceoffs in the last two games. Doesn't get any more "intangible" than that!

Anne M said...

Vanek's Hair and I were texting last night that the Sabres should have kept Sarich AND Keith Carney after his GWG on Saturday.

Calgary looks like a great place to watch hockey. When they score and you see all those jerseys pop up on the glass, it's just amazing. I was remembering last night that the year they went to the Finals, there was almost a beer crisis in Calgary--they were running out of beer all over the place, and it wasn't that easy to restock because of the location. That's pretty awesome--beer crisis!

Versus is ridiculous. I live in Rochester, so I'm stuck with Versus (no CBC on cable here), and I was pretty much losing it during the Devils-Rangers game. When they would return to the studio for intermission, do they start with an update on the other game in progress? No--who cares about that?? Let's show footage of Sean Avery being an a-hole (like that's news) and chuckle about it. It would have been one thing if they had provided any actual analysis of Avery, or even pointed out that Drury came over and basically told him to knock it off, but they just laughed at him and said it was legal.

I'm enjoying the irony of Campbell having to play in this series against Phaneuf. Guess we're seeing who really deserves the big paycheck, eh Brian?

twoeightnine said...

Here's video. I think the word douchebag should be replaced in the English language by seanavery.

Campbell played an awesome game. He's at least worth $7m now. Horrible defense on the game winning goal and then an ill-advised Spin-O-Turnover with less than a minute left in the game, in his own end, with an empty net? He's got big game moxie.

Vanek's Hair said...

Don't forget my man, Wayne Primeau!! The Sabres have no idea how to build a franchise.

I definitely want to go to Calgary to watch a game. Just not when there is a beer shortage. No way will that work.

Glad Boston won, because that series has been aesthetically pleasing. Even the however many Mtl. fans in BOston being so loud you could here the boos for Chara in (Insert Arena Name Here) in Boston.

Disappointed the Rangers Devils series will continue. That thing cannot end soon enou...zzzzzzzzzzz. Seriously, start players on fire, release lions on the ice, put a scantilly clad Jessica Simpson in net. Something to make that damn series watchable. I do not like Avery. (May I confess I would probably like him on the Sabres?)

My re-tooled fantasy lineup will certainly be poised to take over the top spot, which will ultimately rightfully belong to Vanek's Hair.

Heather B. said...

anonymous, thanks for that note! I recognized that Campbell was on for the game-winner but somehow missed that he was on for two more.

Elma, I didn't even think of all the former Sabres' blown leads. Very interesting! And wow, 12 for 43 in face-offs? That is... not good at all.

289, thanks for the video. When I watched Campbell's turnover in real time I completely missed that it was on a spin-o-rama. Once someone pointed it out I watched it a few times on the Tivo, cackling with glee every time. I'm mean, what can I say? :-D

I loved the Montreal fans booing Chara in Boston. Poor guy can't catch a break. That series has been a little more fun to watch than I anticipated. I'm not entirely convinced that Boston realizes they don't get a point for forcing OT anymore though.

I was definitely in love with Calgary after last night. We'll have to all take a road trip one of these days :P

And finally, I'm not confident about my line-up changes, I have to admit. We'll see.

dave in Rocha said...

I'm not sure if you notice, but that's how Calgary fans ALWAYS look. It's not some hokey playoff gimmick, you typically see 80% of the crowd wearing a red sweater every game. It's awesome. They must have so much disposable income in that city.

Go Flames!

Katie said...

Dave, I was just going to mention how great it is that every game in Calgary looks that awesome. I love when they have their games on CBC. Seeing all those fans go that crazy was actually the first moment this season that it really hit me that the Sabres aren't in it. I miss all of that intensity coming from HSBC =(

Elma, I was thinking about all of those blown leads too! Obviously Campbell's terrific leadership and "aggressive play" just got lost in the move, right Bucky? Yes, in Sunday's paper, he referred to Soupy as an "aggressive defenseman"...maybe he meant aggressively spin-o-rama-ing in front of his own empty net!

And Avery's antics make me sick. I'm just so tired of hearing what a great "agitator" he is. Call a spade a spade already and say he's nothing but a punk.

Mark B said...

Vanek, there was a time when I would have said, "Hmmm..Avery on the Sabres. I would like him then".

Last night's antics changed all that. I cannot cheer for that kind of behavior or person. I wanted Marty Brodeur to wack him across his face.

S.A.M. said...

I would pay money NOT have Avery on my team. I believe the words "gutless puke" come to mind.. ooh I hate him.

I wanted to kill the VS idiots for lauding that- it's NOT good play, it's bullshit and everyone knows it. A little whack to the goalie while screening him and looking for the tip-in? Totally okay. Standing there waving your stick in his face when the play is nowhere near? Not acceptable. Ever. Marty shoulda given him another black eye to match the one he already has.

I am SOO glad Jersey won the game. 1- I love the Devils
2- I hate the Rangers
3- If they win anymore games in which Avery acts like an ass, we'll never hear the end of it!

I didn't stay for Calgary/San Jose but I saw the beginning and I love how the Cow-town fans are always bustin. I love even more how the Sharks got told again. Wooohooo!