I'm not going to try to sell the name "Fangerang" as anything but cringeworthy. I'm not going to say that summoning the musical influences of 'Gangnam Style' was the best choice in production for something that's meant to hype a crowd for one of the most pressure packed stages in all of sports. I'm not going to endorse any of the painfully caucasian choreography that took place. Still - while there no shortage of aspects of this video that make you want to shake your damn head so hard that that you lose the memory of watching it - it's just so perfectly Predators.
This corny video is hockey in Nashville in a nutshell. It may not feature people that know the intricacies of the sport and it might require excess alcohol for peak enjoyment, but it's loud, over-the-top, and shamelessly fun in a way in which only hockey in a Southern party city could be. Other than a star-studded roster that is unquestionably coming together at the right time, this montage is perfectly representative of what's making it so difficult to root against a team whose fans are embracing their team in a way that not many thought possible when they first arrived. Maybe I'm a sucker for stupid viral videos that are - at least in part - intentionally bad, or maybe the non-traditionalist vibe is a welcomed change to a sport that too often has a Sherwood stuck up it's ass. Either way, I'm down with the 'Fangerang' (until it gets repetitive and old after about 1.5 more viewings).
Randy Carlyle Isn't One To Make Excuses, But The Ducks' Playoff Schedule Was...Like...Really, Really Hard
PuckDaddy- Randy Carlyle, indicated that the schedule wasn’t in Anaheim’s favor, and that the NHL should reconsider it.
“I don’t think we played poorly in the series. I think that the toughest part I have about the whole thing is that this was our seventh game in 13 days,” said Carlyle.
“Now, there’s various reasons for that, but I think there’s got to be some consideration in the scheduling in the future between series. We finished on a Wednesday and had to open again on Friday, whereas other teams had to open on Saturday. An extra day would have given us a chance to recover. And we know how tough these games are. And that was a tough hand that was dealt to us.”
Also please recall that on May 17, Carlyle completely punted on the schedule question, when asked “is it fair to play the playoffs with this kind of schedule” by a reporter.
“Well, I better not comment what’s fair and what’s not fair. I leave that up for other people. I think the issue is we get accustomed to it and we just have to make sure we manage the time, what we do in the days between and how we can re-energize our group. That’s the most important thing,” he said.
Well, I - for one - simply cannot believe what I just read. Did Randy Carlyle just imply that the NHL Playoffs can be long and unforgiving? And that a two month tournament consisting of 7 game series between the best teams in an aggressive, contact sport often offers forms of adversity that might take a mental and physical on it's participants? I'm going to need to hear from a less biased party on this, because if the Ducks really were impeded from competing at full strength due to their failure to close out Edmonton Oilers in a timely manner then we are going to have to put an asterisk next to 2017 Western Conference Finals.
Maybe the Nashville Predators aren't a team of destiny that has gotten contributions from up and down the lineup and overcome injuries to their first line center and longtime captain in stamping their ticket to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history. Maybe they are just a group that was all-but-gifted an express pass to the next and last round by eliminating their previous opponent as soon as they got the opportunity. Sure, the Anaheim Ducks only played one more game than the Nashville Predators have this postseason, but that extra day or two of rest that the NHL used to unfairly sabotage the healthier roster clearly made all the difference in the world.
I know the head coach of a team that could have made their playoff lives easier by not getting their doors blown off (7-1) in the game that inevitably tightened their schedule would never make excuses, so I'll do it for him. Seven games in thirteen days is a hell of a lot of hockey. Who knew that hoisting the most difficult trophy to win in all of sports can often be extremely challenging when you make it harder on yourselves? Sigh, it's a shame really. When we look back at this year's Anaheim Ducks team I can only imagine the first thing that will pop in our head isn't that they lost to a more deserving opponent, but that they were one free Friday night away from glory.
Guy Boucher Admitted He's Coaching The Second Best Team In The Eastern Conference Finals, As If That Were A Secret
Look, if you gave me a list of things I would want to hear from the losing head coach following a complete beatdown that brought a team of underdogs to the bitter brink of elimination and asked me to rank them then "they are better than us" would be sitting there more lonely than the fat kid during recess. As far as postgame quotes given to fulfill repetitive media obligations are concerned, "we aren't as good as our opponent" is admittedly far more controversial than it needed to be.
That said, I just can't find a reason to look at it as a preemptive excuse when the one reason the Ottawa Senators have made it this far in the postseason is because the entirety of their roster has bought into a strategy that's built around them tactically outperforming their talent. This isn't like Gordon Bombay sarcastically ripping his team of misfits behind their back. This is an NHL coach saying something that was - at the very least - implied when he got his professional athletes to embrace and execute a defensive-minded system aimed at keeping games close.
Maybe hearing their head coach talk about how inferior they are will serve as a reminder of what helped them to overcome that inferiority in previous rounds, or maybe it breeds resentment amongst a group of proud players. Whatever the case may be, it can't make things much worse than losing by so many goals that your rotation of goaltenders turned into a goddamn carousel. I don't know if I would have dropped that truth bomb if I were Guy Boucher, but there's very little chance it blows up in his face with what's at stake for a team that is merely six wins away from realizing it's dream while being no strangers to adversity. Considering how far they have come, I think it's safe to say that he has a better grasp of his room than those that just walk into it to pry answers that aren't nearly as incriminating as they seem on the surface.
Apparently The NHL Truly DGAF, Because Tommy Wingels Won't Have A Hearing Following His Game 5 Elbow
It's not so much that I am surprised that as the games become more and more important the NHL veers further and further away from upholding the rules that they solely put in place to make it look like they give a crap about the long term health of their players (Newsflash: they don't). In fact, if you sat me down in front of a lie detector and asked me if I appreciated the hands-off approach to dirty plays during the playoffs then that needle would spike faster than Tommy Wingels elbow. That, however, is the fan in me talking and fans don't have any obligation to maintain the integrity of the league they watch strictly for entertainment. So what's truly shocking isn't the Department Of Player Safety's decision making, but rather their inability to recognize an opportunity to make themselves look mindful of completely unnecessary head shots without detracting from the product on the ice.
Forget about a forearm from the blindside being an intentionally dangerous act that was a product of the frustration that results from getting embarrassed by a touchdown's worth of goals in a playoff game. The fact that is was delivered by a 4th liner that hasn't even been a regular in the lineup should have been enough for the NHL to - for once - err on the side of safety.
You know who cares deeply about Tommy Wingels presence on the active roster? Tommy Wingels' parents...maybe. The Senators aren't living or dying with the single digit minutes that he's giving them during the games in which he actually does play. The game's competitiveness is in no way compromised by forcing him up to a luxury suite in a suit for a night.
I guess what I am saying is that the NHL isn't just bad at making the protection of their employees a priority, but they are downright horrendous at keeping up the facade that they actually consider it a priority. Looking like a bunch of jackasses for not stepping in when a recently concussed Sidney Crosby went headfirst into the boards so as to make sure a superstar continued playing is one thing. Not suspending a buffoon - who wouldn't even be sorely missed - after he went out of his way to hurt someone in a lopsided game is the equivalent of Windex'ing the lens to the microscope they are under when they they should be trying to pull the wool over our eyes. We should all know by now that the NHL doesn't care about concussions, but I would appreciate it if they were a wee more subtle in insulting our intelligence.
It's almost as if it were fate, or even destiny. I know it was the result of an overly excited young player getting his first taste of a semi-professional championship, but I'll be damned if it doesn't feel like there are other forces working to make sure Henrik Lundqvist's seasons (or in this case, tournaments) conclude with him flat on the rink. "The King" who has yet to be crowned simply always finds a way to be staring up at the ceiling or directly down at the ice when the final buzzer blows. Like, the visual of him lying helpless after getting straddled by William Nylander was novel in the sense that it finally followed a win, but even in victory he ended up assuming his seemingly annual position of defeat.
Maybe - in a strange way - that's symbolic of the harsh reality that one of greatest goaltenders of all time is going to have to settle for celebrating first place in a tournament whose participation is predicated on professional failure. He just won a gold medal for his country and it undoubtedly feels like a net loss. Maybe (Also see: Definitely) I'm biased in saying the clip of him getting driven into the playing surface during a euphoric moment served as a painful reminder of how little the 'World Championships' should mean to a player of his caliber. Maybe the New York Rangers will figure out to how ice a competent defense that allows a generational netminder to win a championship that's worthy of his talents so he is resigned to retiring to a criminally underwhelming trophy case. Though, if I'm going to get that outlandish with my hypotheticals then it would be an injustice not to mention that farm animals that roll around in shit all day might also someday grow wings and fly.
People Seem None Too Pleased That Ryan Getzlaf Walked Away With Nothing More Than A Fine After Using A Gay Slur Towards An Official
OutSports- Last year when the NHL suspended Chicago Blackhawks player Andrew Shaw one playoff game for being caught using a gay slur, the league was lauded for taking the meaningful step.
Now the NHL is backtracking.
Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf was caught calling a referee a “cocksucker” on multiple occasions during his team’s Game 4 against the Nashville Predators.
The NHL’s reaction? A meaningless $10,000 fine. No suspension.
If the NHL wanted to take a real stand, they would suspend him for a playoff game.
To be clear, “cocksucker” is an even more specifically anti-gay term than “faggot” (though they can be equally hurtful). The latter has been co-opted for years in sports to mean other things that demean an opponent. To be sure, the root of the term is homophobia, but it’s taken on a whole other meaning for many people unaware that it’s a gay slur.
See, now what we have here is a classic miscommunication between sexualities. I think the straight community as a whole figured there was one particular word at the heart of the controversy when they saw that Ryan Getzlaf was taking some heat for using a gay slur. I believe it's safe to say that that word was not "cocksucker". Now, that might be an ignorant assumption, but it's not one that's totally untrue. I suppose it is rather homophobic to attempt to insult a man by claiming that he enjoys phallic genitalia in and around his mouth, but that's not something I can say that I realized until this very moment.
I can't speak for the Ducks' center's knowledge of all things LGBT, but - if he's anything like me - then this is more so an issue of negligence than it is discrimination. The NHL's decision to fine him instead of sentencing him to a one game suspension similar to the one they gave Andrew Shaw for using the term "faggot" last year isn't so much inconsistent as it is an admittance that they too were in the dark on the offensiveness of implied oral sex between males. I wouldn't go as far as saying that Ryan Getzlaf's star power had absolutely nothing to do with him receiving nothing more than a costly slap on the wrist, but the word in question not widely being considered prejudice certainly weighed heavier than whose (apparently dick-free) mouth it came from.
So let me borrow some words from the guilty party and offer an apology to the gay community. Once again you are going to have to excuse our innocent disregard for your feelings, because - as demeaning as "cocksucker" might be to men that actually suck cocks - it's nowhere near reaching the level of universal disdain that a particular F-word has. I know it's pathetic, but we are still taking baby steps toward true understanding and when we get there you can start demanding that players sit out playoff games with massive implications because they thoughtlessly slandered the potential penile preference of an on-ice official.
Ryan Getzlaf's apology (which, for what it's worth, seems genuine):
The Penguins Starting Goalie Is In Question, So Let's See If Mike Sullivan Learned Anything From Last Year...
TheSportingNews- The Penguins were embarrassed 5-1 by the Senators in Game 3 of the NHL's Eastern Conference finals Wednesday, and now Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is under fire after a rough outing.
Fleury allowed four goals on the Senators' first nine shots in the first period before he was pulled in favor of Matt Murray. Fleury's struggles could cause the Penguins to start Murray in Game 4 on Friday.
After the game, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said he hadn't thought about who will get the start.
“I haven’t even given any consideration to that at this point,” he told reporters. “We give up four goals as quickly as we did, sometimes when you make a change, it’s for more than one reason. … It’s a little bit of a wake-up call, I guess, for the whole group.”
Talk about deja vu. It's damn near been one year - to the day - that Mike Sullivan overreacted to a bad outing from his team that made his hot goaltender look even worse on a rough night. The goalies have flipped, but the situation is almost eerily similar. Last season it was Matt Murray who didn't expect to be counted on come playoff time, and now it's the guy whose starting role he officially assumed this year. Much like another familiar masked man was last postseason, Marc-Andre Fleury has been goddamn revelation for the Penguins this postseason. Replacing him between the pipes now would create ambiguity that could dramatically effect the psyche of a guy who is in the midst of rewriting the narrative on his playoff reputation.
Is putting Matt Murray in net for a game could push you to the brink of elimination a death sentence? Probably not. The kid is a stud. He played well in relief and he could very well backstop his team to a win in Game 4. However - whether or does he not - the same question would still persist during the time of year when you least want to answer to uncertainty.
Mike Sullivan went with Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning and - due to no fault of the player he inserted in the lineup - his team ended up with their backs against the wall while in the midst of a goaltender controversy. Apparently the presence of otherworldly talent transcends self inflicted distractions because they rattled off wins in back-to-back elimination games en route to an eventual Stanley Cup Championship, but that's not the point. The point is that the only real mistake is one in which you don't learn anything. Changing his last line of defense to spark his team didn't work last year, and - with how inspiring Marc-Andre Fleury's performance was against Washington - there's no reason to think it would this year. Four goals against on nine shots is an indictment of his entire team as much as it was him, so those numbers shouldn't cloud the fact that 'The Flower' was coming off a shutout in which he bloomed.
You're going to have to forgive my negligence because I have never gone through the process of attaining full bodied, plucked poultry, but isn't skinning a duck the only way to get your hands on a skinned duck? Unless you happen to know the right outdoorsman, how else would one come to secure something that looks like it's sold - as is - at a roadside stand in China? I think I speak for almost everyone that doesn't have a future in serial killing when I say that I prefer my meat to be headless upon purchase, so it must take some sort of effort to end up with a duck that's literally dead behind the eyes at your disposal.
That's why I have to give this dude a hell of a lot of credit. I personally find it haunting and strange to lug dead birds around in public, but if you put that type of dedication into trolling your opponent during the playoffs then there's nothing I can do but respect it. Whatever means he used to sneak that animal corpse into the arena probably dangerously toed the thin line between beastiality and necrophilia, but if you are at a loss for words then there's a legitimate reason why...
Because it's the Cup.
P.S. I guess it's a good thing they changed their name, because there is nothing "mighty" about that dead, disgraced mallard.
It's exceedingly difficult to come away from that clip with anything but a smile on your face. It's cool to see the leader of an NFL team take interest in another local franchise and encourage fan support within a rowdy building that might falsely lead him to believe that the NHL actually can do a mediocre job marketing itself outside of notorious hockey cities. To watch him do it with five overweight dudes showering themselves with obnoxiously expensive, XL beers in the background only enhances what was already a pretty awesome visual.
That's why it's crazy to think that there are more than likely people out there that would have had it ruined for them if the sixth attending member of the Tennessee Titans - who also happens to be of-age - partook in spilling overpriced suds down his shirt.
Maybe I'm not giving enough credit to those who have proven - time and time again - that they don't deserve it. That said, don't you think that one or two talking heads would at least pretend to have a problem if a starting quarterback in the NFL was slugging stadium brews like he was trying to make up for his 4th year of college that proved unnecessary? Am I crazy to think that people would be searching for a way to spin a 23 year old professional athlete letting loose at a sporting event during the offseason as something that was inappropriate to do in public given his position?
It's objectively hilarious when the handful of bruisers that are paid to protect him (or as NBCSN likes to acknowledge them, the world's largest footnote) treat a televised appearance like it's a tailgate. However, given the overblown scrutiny that usually surrounds those under center, I would be interested to see if that opinion slightly differed if the one guy who has the fate of the franchise resting on his right arm had been equally as bold with his boozing. I'm pretty sure that Marcus Mariota was a bit of a goody two shoes when he first came into the league so maybe he's more of a "white wine spritzer when the occasion calls for it" kinda guy, but I can't help but think that his oft-dissected status as the front man in the huddle deterred him from cheers'ing as much as cheering. As someone that loves a good, old fashioned chug off, it makes me sad that my first thought was that there are definitely some that are mildly hypocritical in how they view them.
TheComeback- Dennis Morgan has been a regular performing the anthem for the team for the past 17 years, but he now takes a back seat to singers like Carrie Underwood and Lady Antebellum with the Predators working their way to the Stanley Cup Final. Now, Morgan and the Predators are in a bit of a war of words, via public statements on the issue.
“I’m not going to hide my disappointment and I told the Predators that I have been asked the same question over and over and it’s just really getting old,” Morgan said, according to The Tennessean.
“Everywhere I go — obviously at my day job (as a healthcare IT recruiting manager) and at (Bridgestone) arena as well as everywhere else I go to church, grocery stores, on the street, in meetings and in restaurants — people want to know how I feel.”
Morgan claimed he didn’t want to make a big deal about it until after the Predators’ postseason run, which he hopes ends with a Stanley Cup parade through the city. But because of the constant questions he has faced, he felt the need to address the elephant in the room.
As a big "stick with what got you there" guy, I won't defend the Nashville Predators initial departure down the celebrity route in saluting America. If the Devils ever started a postseason by trotting out anyone other than Arlette prior to Round 1, Home Game 1 I would hope that she'd be as livid as me, so I can understand why Dennis Morgan feels slighted. At the risk of sounding like someone that doesn't want to hear Carrie Underwood belt out her angelic vocals while wearing a hockey jersey, I must say that I - personally - would have considered it a good omen to go with the guy whose entire life inexplicably turns to dog shit when he gets passed over by a talented, smoking hot blonde.
Unfortunately, it's now been proven that blessing Dennis Morgan with the microphone isn't exactly as effective as rubbing a rabbit's foot. When Kevin Fiala netted the overtime winner that officially brought the Blackhawks to the brink of elimination the clock officially struck midnight on his role as the team's good luck charm. If he deeply and truly cared about their success he would realize that. I didn't think that pandering to national broadcasts with famous country singers would be what helped to fuel a pretty dominant drive to potential playoff glory, but now that it has there is no debate as to who the red carpet should be rolled out for.
Honestly, bitching about not being able to sing the National Anthem when your team is on an absolute tear is so un-American that even the Southern conservatives in 'Bridgestone Arena' would agree that it makes Colin Kaepernick look like Abraham Lincoln. I don't care if the guy has to have an awkward conversation with every single person that passes him in the street, because any hockey fan that wouldn't endure a couple months of social anxiety in exchange for a championship celebration - in Nashville, of all places - doesn't even deserve to call themselves such. Dennis Morgan might as well rock a Ryan Kesler jersey, because this little woe-is-me act can be looked at as nothing but a distraction. The Predators have been to more Western Conference Finals without him providing the pregame patriotism than they have with him providing the pregame patriotism, and that alone should make him consider retiring his mic come playoff time.
P.S. I can't believe an organization that is in the midst of their first legitimate run towards a Stanley Cup actually wasted time in addressing a butt-hurt anthem singer. What a world...
“We have always valued Dennis K. Morgan’s performance of the national anthem at Predators’ home games. Our arrangement with him has always allowed for nationally and internationally renowned musical artists to perform when available to further enhance our game experience while paying respect to our country through their respective awe-inspiring renditions of the national anthem. The reaction from our fans in Bridgestone Arena as well as from around the country to seeing and hearing world class performers such as Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Vince Gill and his daughters, Little Big Town and Lady Antebellum during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs has been overwhelmingly positive, bringing national and international exposure to our community while continuing to set our game experience and atmosphere apart from others in professional sports.”
I know it's never safe to assume that everyone feels the same, but - unless your a Senators fan or suspiciously loyal to the Maple Leafs' former front office - it's impossible not to love this juxtaposition. Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin going from at each other's throats like they were about to spark an international incident to linking up for the game winning goal is just a perfect portrayal of the intensity of playoff hockey. Obviously, the imagery was helped by the NHL's version of a folk hero throwing a temper tantrum that would force a pilot to land the plane early, and the hilarity of what it might sound like to hear his linemate/temporary nemesis cursing in broken English. Still, those frustrations hitting their boiling point before getting completely relieved with one pretty passing play and the ensuing fortunate bounce says all you need to know about the emotions these guys experience while performing under pressure packed circumstances.
Phil Kessel went from looking like Evgeni Malkin banged his sister and never called ever again to looking like he was his best friend that just got back from being stranded on a deserted island for a decade. Surely there would be plenty of hot-take artists searching for a deeper meaning behind an on-bench argument in the heat of the moment if it never got it's happy ending, but luckily that's of no concern with the way the conflict was resolved in damn near rom-com-esque fashion. Splice these clips together and set them to a heartwarming score and you've got the summer's next unrealistic tale of love, but don't take my word for it...
PlayersTribune- I had to stop going to the grocery store this season.
For one reason or another, the grocery store has always been where I get recognized the most in Ottawa. I can hang out in pretty much any restaurant or bar and be in the clear, but at the grocery store I’ll pretty much always be spotted. For the most part, I’ve always enjoyed that. Engaging fans is one of the most rewarding things about making it to the NHL. But one thing you learn after playing in Canada for a while is that Canadian hockey fans are … honest.
I might be in the produce aisle squeezing a tomato or something when an elderly woman will approach me.
“Pardon, but are you Bobby Ryan from the Senators?”
I’ll perk up, clear my throat, and in my best I’m A Professional voice respond, “Yes ma’am, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
And without hesitating, she’ll go full beat-reporter on me, “You haven’t scored in a while, eh? Maybe you’re holding the puck too long at the point?”
After hearing that, I might set the tomato down (or maybe squeeze it harder, I’m not sure) before responding. My impulse will be to defend myself, so I’ll say something like, “Well, uh, yeah, I’ve been in a bit of a slump. But I managed to redirect a couple of pucks last game, and I think the goals are going to start comi—”
And that’s when I’ll stop myself and think, Why the hell am I talking about my job at the grocery store?
That type of scenario played out a lot this season. By the time I’d get home, my wife would be confused because I’d be super stressed-out from buying a couple of bags of groceries. Eventually she started doing the shopping. It was for the best, I suppose.
I don't think even the most head-in-the-clouds (i.e. up their own ass) fan is under some illusion that being a professional athlete is a "normal" job. It obviously comes with an amount of scrutiny that is unfitting considering the amount of talent they possess in comparison to their scrutinizers that will never begin to understand that talent. Now, they are certainly reimbursed quite nicely for playing a role that thanklessly shifts from city-wide savior to the general public's proverbial punching bag at a moment's notice. Still, that doesn't make the concept of wholly average people giving condescending tips to those that are astronomically more skilled any less odd.
Just imagine if this were something that happened to workers whose jobs are labeled with a colored collar on a regular basis. Think about leaving the office after having a shitty day and getting stopped by a member of the custodial staff. Then picture that janitor suggesting that you better maximize the efficiency of your spreadsheets by explaining something that was taught to them by an animated, talking paperclip in middle school.
I'm not trying to imply that playing in the NHL is anything less than absolutely awesome as the benefits of being a pro exponentially outweigh the cons, but we should acknowledge that potentially being reminded of your struggles at work while away from work is a massive fucking con. I would have traded places with Bobby Ryan before he became a postseason revelation, but I also would have used that tomato to treat an overeager elderly woman like she was bombing her comedy routine if she took a jab at my professional insecurities. I don't think people are good at taking criticism as much as there are just varying levels of bad. That being said - if not for entertaining us with abilities that will always be inherently underrated - athletes at least deserve credit for not being the worst when people with (mostly) good intentions insult them by critiquing their performance away from a job they could never, ever do.
I think my favorite part of watching the head coach of a professional sports team go full-Bill Belichick is that they always tend to make the idea of them using modern technology seem like it's a slap in their SnapFace. I don't doubt for a second that Guy Boucher has never checked the "sky is falling" overreactions of his fanbase by scouring the abject dumpster fire that is relatively anonymous postgame chatter. I'm not quite sure I have ever seen the man bear a smile, and - despite the "rotting animal in the ass" vibe that tends to emanate from hockey twitter - it's pretty impossible to survive the wild, wild web of social media if you are humorless.
I do, however, agree with his larger point. I'm not sure why a reporter thought it would be wise to pepper a head coach of a team that has defied odds to get to the Eastern Conference Finals with a question about the "quality" of hockey he's overseeing. If Guy Boucher's job was to produce aesthetically pleasing puck he would already be sitting at home petting the white cat on his lap until September. Pretty off-base to assume that he should concern himself with appeasing the unappeasable general public while also continuing to lead a team on what would be an extremely unlikely championship run. The Ottawa Senators could act as Ambien to the entire NHL viewership by mucking it up with a more skilled squad, and Guy Boucher wouldn't be any less ecstatic if it resulted in a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. You might not be able to tell from his facial expression, but you definitely could by checking his anti-social browser history.
Ryan Johansen Might Have A Better Idea Of How People Root For Ryan Kelser If Ryan Kesler Were On His Team
So let me get this straight, Ryan Johansen doesn't understand how people could cheer for a guy whose oft-controversial play reduced his opposition's first line center to a whiny, holier than thou diatribe following a Western Conference Finals game? He doesn't get why people would appreciate someone that makes himself the primary concern of the best players on the other team without so much as having an impact on the scoresheet? He can't see why some might see the benefit in having a mental edge that forces opponents to worry about him on the ice and answer questions about him off the ice?
I don't want to make it sound like I am some Ryan Kesler super fan, because he is undeniably a dickhead. Still, his ability to get a professional athlete to stand in a front of a microphone and all-but-say that Ryan Kesler's family would disown him if they had any self respect is the main reason that Ryan Kesler has apologists. All those cup checks and wayward elbows that are tough to support get excused once the victim of them indirectly admits that they are having the desired effect, and that's what Ryan Johansen did by implying that he sits around pondering the moral compass of the company that the culprit keeps. A chance at a Stanley Cup is on the line, and - if that sanctimonious answer was any indication - then Ryan Johansen is being distracted by a player who loves nothing more than hearing that his efforts to agitate were successful.
People don't root for Ryan Kesler because they love the way he plays the game. They root for Ryan Kesler because the way he plays the game can be effective when guys like Ryan Johansen let it be effective. Unfortunately for the Predators' leading scorer, bitching about someone's dirty play - no matter how legitimate the gripe - only shows vulnerability and encourages that player to keep making himself cozy in your head and under your skin. I'm not praising the tactics of someone who is no stranger to cheap shots, but it's tough to argue that they aren't paying richly in dividends.
Av's Defenseman Tyson Barrie Had To Back Out Of The World Championships After Suffering A "Laceration" Wrestling His Teammate
A laceration? So you mean, like, a cut? Tyson Barrie bailed on Team Canada because of a little "boys being boys" bloodshed? Normally I would have no problem with a player not toughing it out during a relatively meaningless tournament whose participants must first fail in their quest for a Stanley Cup, but Tyson Barrie? The guys who finished dead last in the league in plus/minus while playing for an NHL team that should have been recalled by the AHL? He should be channeling his inner "Patrice Bergeron" in order to lace up the gash in his leg and his skates for games that he's actually favored in for once. I won't hate on him for getting banged up rough housing with the squad in between games. That's basically an occupational hazard of clowning around hockey players. However, you better be prepared to play through a coffee table-caused injury. Especially, when your recent resume should have you throwing precautionary reasons out the window you just accidentally put your foot through while DDT'ing your d-partner.
Now, this "laceration" is almost definitely far, far worse than I am making it out to be. I certainly hope that's the case because - as far as I am concerned - "laceration" is just a fancy term for minor flesh wound and a minor flesh wound shouldn't sideline someone whose desperation to win something (i.e. anything) should be at an all-time high.
Barry Trotz may have very well said everything when he made it a point to say nothing. His semantically harmless response when questioned on the effectiveness of Alexander Ovechkin in Game 7 required an amount of restraint that is characteristic of a sober person describing what went wrong in their failed marriage. If that didn't give you a little insight to how he felt about his captain's performance then you're probably a neutral zone liability since you clearly have trouble reading between the lines. Now, I can't - in good conscience - sit here and tell you that Alexander the Gr8 is the main reason that the Capitals' have a another long summer of self loathing ahead of them when Braden Holtby just removed the diaper he tested the limits of over the last seven games. I can, on the other hand, echo the unspoken sentiment of their head coach in saying that he definitely didn't live up to his nickname.
This, however, isn't about whether or not Ovechkin did all he could to prevent the two goals that he got a first hand look at as they sealed what has become his team's annual fate. This is about whether or not his team's annual fate would differ without him there at all.
There's no denying that a change of scenery can be good for a player, just as an influx of new faces can be good for a franchise that needs to cut ties with it's oldest friend, darkness. In a perfect world, trading potentially the best goal scorer of all time could garner a return that would benefit both parties and hopefully chase away the ghosts of playoffs' past. Can you imagine how much better off Washington would be if they flipped a dynamic winger whose defensive abilities/smarts leave a lot to be desired in exchange for a two-way, first-pairing defenseman that can eat 25 minutes a night and play in all situations? It would almost seem too good to be true, and that's because getting thee most coveted of asset for nothing more than a scapegoat that couldn't even crack the top 6 when it mattered most is too good to be true.
By selling low the Capitals would be wrapping a perennial 30 goal scorer and the most dangerous power play weapon in the entire NHL in "postseason conundrum" packaging. With that type of unintentional sales pitch, I just don't see how moving him could end up being a net positive in the short term. Technically speaking, the best regular season team of the last two years is still very much a championship contender - even if they constantly fail to contend for a championship. Does dismissing their leader - albeit one who lacks leadership qualities - for below market value increase their chances of shaking a stigma that's become a self fulfilling prophecy? It's an exceedingly difficult question to answer, and that's why I would strip him of the 'C' and make his drop down the lineup permanent before I even dared to say what Barry Trotz wanted to say. Not just because I think it could help alter what is now a laughable identity, but because history shows that getting 77 cents on the dollar doesn't make it any easier to bust through a glass ceiling.
I'm going to be honest. I feel bad providing context for this clip. Watching Marc-Andre Fleury gently give his shaft a nice stroking is at it's peak humor-wise when you have absolutely no idea why he's doing it. Unfortunately - if you're a lowly Capitals fan - his performance was too key to the Penguins Game 7 victory for me to just sit here and try to make a bunch of not-so-subtle masturbation references. Therefore, I regretfully inform you that MAF is extremely superstitious, and the self love that he showed his stick was out of appreciation for it's opportune placement...
Basically, it was an example of the same passion that he has for his goal posts when they handle their business from behind...
Anyway, enough about Marc-Andre Fleury offering a giving hand as he whispers sweet nothings to inanimate objects, because what he finished off last night easily transcended a GIF that can safely be used during passive aggressive sexting with someone whose boundaries you are testing.
What he did last night was put an exclamation point on the unexpected relief appearance that has helped to carry the defending champions through the first two rounds of the playoffs. What he did last night was make a team that's been without their #1 defenseman, #1 goaltender, and - at times - their #1 center's cerebral cortex the prohibitive favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals. What he did last night was punctuate a two week performance that put the Vezina Candidate at the other end of the ice to shame.
Surely there's a lot of narratives to be discussed, but the predominant story of what was a fairly ridiculous series is that Marc-Andre Fleury outplayed Braden Holtby and it wasn't even particularly close. The "backup" that lost his job to a rookie and had many patiently waiting for him to come back to Earth where they largely view him as a postseason choke artist just beat off (hehe) his haters with an effort that could ultimately result in the implosion of the team that undeniable got the better of his own. Obviously everyone's first order of business is to point and laugh at Washington while talking about Alexander Ovechkin as if he's the antichrist that's preventing them from reaching the promised land. However, let us not forget that having a fucking field day at the expense of the back-to-back Presidents' Trophy winners wouldn't be possible without the oft-forgotten man that made the fact that they were the better team a moot point.
There it is, folks. Nope, it's not a promotional poster for 'North 2' - the wayward tale of a 20 year old white boy, the foreign parents that forcefully adopted him, and the hilarious cultural mishaps that ensue. Instead, it's visual evidence that it took a lot more than natural, God-given talent for Connor McDavid to get where he is today. That awkward pose? That is undeniable proof that the kid who singlehandedly turned around the fortunes of the Edmonton Oilers has spent his entire life working so hard on his craft that all his social skills fell by the wayside.
Admittedly, it's strange for a married couple to latch on to a professional athlete like he's their first born, but anyone that's been around a college girl that's had too much to drink knows how to grin and bear it without looking as if they are the victim in a Liam Neeson movie. We have all had our photogenic struggles with hand placement, but Connor McDavid's inability to configure his body so that he doesn't appear allergic to human contact is a telltale sign that he grew up with a stick permanently affixed to his mitts. I can't imagine it's easy to force a smile whenever a stranger interrupts your life for a photo-op, but that glare that screams "help me"? That's the facial expression of someone that was practicing his crossovers during school dances. It showcases the gracelessness of someone that was skating suicides in a weighted vest while his competition was slugging beers on Snapchat. The only pictures he's ever felt welcome in were championship photos, and he's likely a generational talent because of it...
Sometimes I feel bad for Henrik Lundqvist. Sometimes those (seemingly annual) iconic photos of him laying face first on the ice as his incompetent defenseman and underperforming forwards swirl around the net like they are circling a net minder who is all-but-dead inside serve as a reminder of just how many years of a generational talent have gone wasted. Sometimes I think he's been taken for granted by a franchise that's somehow defied the allure of New York City to become a yearly postseason casualty in increasingly feeble fashion. Sometimes I even believe he deserves better than these 'Groundhog's Day'-esque endings to seasons that are tick-tick-tocking away as quickly as his biological clock, but then I ask myself..."what could be better than being the best?"
I'm not suggesting that Henrik Lundqvist will go down as the greatest goalie to ever live. That seat is currently being held by someone far, far more accomplished. However, if he continues this tragic career trajectory then he may very well be able to stake his claim as the greatest goalie to never win. That title might seem like one he's done anything and everything possible to avoid, but it's one that allows him to safely scapegoat others. He would probably deem his career unsuccessful if he left the NHL with no Stanley Cups to his name, but the next best thing besides success is not having to take responsibility for your failures.
If you really think about it, the New York Rangers have done him a favor by surrounding him with a helpless supporting cast that couldn't defend their own shadow. Just think of the elite company he is more than likely going to keep: Charles Barkley, Dan Marino, Henrik Lundqvist. Those are some eye popping names and they were able to achieve that notoriety without having to win on the biggest stage in their respective fields. Sure, raising the most prestigious trophy is all of sports would be a hell of an experience, but who is to say it would have the staying power of being the goaltender by which all exploited, snake bitten goaltenders are compared to for the rest of time? It probably sucks to be remembered as a perennial loser, but does it suck as much as being completely forgotten?
A sweepstakes, you say? One that will have multiple teams vying for the services of a Russian goal scorer late into his 30's and perhaps beyond? And it could - but probably (definitely) won't - end on July 1st? Man, oh man, that sounds so very intriguing...to any organization but the one that had an entire offseason and asset pool hijacked by the same guy's superficial need to see eight zeros on his now defunct contract.
I've already put way too much thought into this scenario playing out. I have spewed far too many words on the subject, and I simply don't have the stomach to do another deep dive on Ilya Kovalchuk's potential return to the NHL. Therefore, I'll leave it at this - I want the New Jersey Devils to sign him as soon as possible, and instantly flip the son of a bitch for anything that's worth so much as a damn to the future of the franchise. I have no idea what kind of return he'll command, nor do I particularly care as long as he is someone else's problem sooner rather than later. "Look at his KHL numbers..." this and ::insert Alexander Radulov comparison:: that, but if I have to experience another 'Summer Of Kovy' I will legitimately hit myself over the head with a baseball bat. As far as I am concerned, the highest bidder gets a 34 year old Russian with his fair share of character issues, an incessant desire to be fawned over, and a spine/skill set that will likely age quicker than the Devils' prospect pool. I couldn't be happier that the man who matters most appears to mirror that mindset, because the last two years have been dedicated towards everything that is anti-Ilya. Plus, who bothers entering a sweepstakes when they've already won the draft lottery?