I Condemn The "Devils Fan" That Showed Up To Eric Lindros' Jersey Retirement In A Scott Stevens Jersey, But I Do Have A Confession To Make
While I wholeheartedly enjoy the trolling of both Philadelphia and it's fake tough/easily provoked fanbase, I think I have to draw the line at wearing the knockoff jersey of the division rival who cut short the career of the legend being honored on the night in question. If there's one instance in which Flyers fans didn't deserve to be reminded that Scott Stevens lowered the boom on their championship aspirations by railroading a guy whose endless potential was limited by his elementary inability to keep his head up when crossing the blue line then it was when his number was being eternally raised to the rafters. This "Devils fan" should have been sitting in the home of a real franchise that only canonizes those that have actually won championships as "his team" pulled off one of their biggest victories of a bounce back season. So yeah, if you told me his brains were splattered across Broad Street then I'd say that justice was served by some trash-on-trash crime. That douche represents nothing more than a good riddance, so hopefully he got exactly what he asked for.
That being said, I do have a confession to make. When I first saw this photo, I laughed. I didn't laugh for long, nor did I feel good about laughing, but - in the interest of full disclosure - a snicker preceded my acceptance that this was an objectively inappropriate thing to wear to a commemorative ceremony for Eric Lindros. Perhaps it wouldn't have been such if Flyers' fans - who root for the only team in the NHL that still thinks gooning it up is a good way to win hockey games (AKA employs Radko Gudas) - weren't constantly trying to retroactively rewrite a two decade old rulebook in an effort to discredit the abject excellence of a 'Hall Of Fame' leader and defenseman. I can't be sure because Philly fans will never be able to think logically as it pertains to Scott Stevens, but that's the rationale I'm rolling with in making myself feel better about instinctually (and shamefully) finding the ultimate act of disrespect humorous.
He can't. He won't. He doesn't.
As much faith as I generally have in just about everything Taylor Hall does, all those doubts crossed my mind within the split second in which he outraced Evgeny Kuznetsov to the puck only to effortlessly chip it past him. Maybe it was the Devils' lack of overtime luck recently that had me feeling cynical, or perhaps it was my vantage point that me questioning whether or not he would pursue the most acute of angles as the math appeared to be just as daunting as the Capitals' backcheck. Whatever the case may be, I learned a valuable lesson that will hopefully benefit my blood pressure for the foreseeable future: The physics of Taylor Hall's skating are not bound by the laws of geometry. You would have thought he was on the ice with beer leaguers as he stopped in at the bar for last call, and he did so in such a casually dominant manner that it could only bear comparison to a Russian that shall remain nameless.
Now, getting a live look at the next episode of the breakout season of The Taylor Hall Show wasn't the only thing to like about the New Jersey Devils win over the only team that sits atop them in a stacked division. The smothering defensive effort that held one of the best offenses in the NHL to all of 6 shots through the halfway point, and a paltry 19 in a game in which they were playing catch up was about as encouraging as a Ray Shero pep talk. The penalty kill - led by the iron shins of Brian Gibbons - was incredible against a unit that tends to make the very best look incredulous. Drew Stafford literally stiff-armed the monkey off his back prior to roofing a backhander. Miles Wood flashed the type of finish that could prove his pesky union with Pavel Zacha and Kyle Palmieri to be a lasting one. Sami Vatanen lent the offense a trifecta of helpers from the defensive end. Keith Kinkaid continued to find a way to keep Cory Schneider's illness-related absence from the net from infecting the rest of the team. Mix in a performance so unrelentingly possessive that it would make a jealous high school girlfriend seem easy going and a disparity in shots that'd make you think the scoreboard operator feel asleep on the control panel, and you get a true team effort that - despite the blown lead - was every bit deserving of two points in the standings.
That said, if you left that building with anything other than the main impetus behind last night's optimistic outlook on your mind then you're not the type of person I'd want to grab a beer with. Taylor Hall's superstardom took center stage when his team needed it the most, and I'll be damned if it didn't swing what could have been a deflating defeat into an ending so happy that it make an Asian masseuse reconsider her career path. The Devils played one of their best, most complete games of the season on both sides of the puck, but - when push came to shove - it was Taylor that made sure Ken Daneyko could unload the line he's more than likely had in his back pocket for months. Hall's well that ends well, indeed.
Apparently There's Only One Thing Stopping Manny Pacquiao's Promoter From Setting Up An April Fight In Las Vegas...Hockey Season
LBS- Manny Pacquiao’s promoter is hoping to put the Filipino fighter back in the ring in April in Las Vegas, but there is a potential conflict with the city’s NHL team.
The Las Vegas Review Journal reported this week that Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, is trying to put on a boxing card for ESPN on April 21 at T-Mobile Arena. The card would feature Bud Crawford against Jeff Horn, as well as a Pacquiao fight. But there is a potential conflict with the Vegas Golden Knights standing in the way.
The NHL playoffs begin on April 11, and the Golden Knights are looking very likely to make a playoff appearance at minimum. For that reason, the venue might be needed to host a playoff game.
I suppose an argument could be made that it went on life support when the biggest PPV of the year consisted of a 40 year old coming out of retirement to fight someone from an entirely different sport. However, I think we should start getting our condolences ready, because if playoff hockey gets priority in Las Vegas then boxing has flatlined. Seriously, what's the equivalent? The CFL taking primetime slots away from the Maple Leafs? I know there are a probably a bunch of big money contracts in play that give the Golden Knights the rights to their building and all that jazz, but strictly from an optics standpoint alone? The day the NHL starts calling the shots in the gambling capital of the world is the day in which the sweet science of mano a mano fisticuffs has been put down for the count.
Like, dig a hole in the desert, toss in every pair of Everlast gloves you find, and have Don King set up the funeral arrangements, because rings will have officially given way to rinks and the most notable fights will be fought by those on skates. It won't ever be forgotten, but if it's getting bullied around the schedule by playoff puck in Adult Disneyland then boxing might as well be gone. After all, it's biggest allure is the braggadocio, and there's nothing to boast about if the league that just hired KKKid Rock to perform at their 'All Star Game' is calling shotty as Sin City's "main event". It's been long suffering for a while now, so what better circumstances for its swan song than the initial face-off to the best postseason in sports for the upstart organization experiencing their inaugural entry into them?
With Two Goals In Two Minutes, The Oft-Banished Devils' Defenseman Helped Put An End To Their 6-Game Losing Skid
I got to say, with the way it began, the finish was anything but predictable. That's not to say that this Devils' team hasn't proven capable of overcoming far, far more than a one goal deficit against a team that's recently been on the receiving end of more high-dangers shots than the guest of honor at a 21st birthday party. However, the way in which John Moore couldn't have done less in both creating and preventing a breakaway goal against felt like a bit of a bad omen with the way things have been trending as of late. For a team that is unquestionably at it's worst when they are giving the puck away unforgivable fashion, starting off a game that was pretty close to must-win territory by wrapping a gift for a 25-goal scorer provided some immediate room for pessimism...
Luckily, the one player whose presence in the lineup (or lack thereof) has become extremely polarizing put forth a performance that will surely warm everyone to the idea of keeping one of team's most talented defensemen out of a luxury suite. If all Damon Severson had to do was play like someone other than Damon Severson to earn the trust of his head coach then faith absolutely must have been restored by back-to-back rockets that made me do a double take at the back of the jersey from which they came...
If logic prevails, that's one personnel decision that can be put in the past, because - with some of the dumbass decision making we've seen from the defense - you might as well find a spot for one of the few players that can limit it by providing offense.
Keith Kinkaid recovered nicely, and it was also great to see Kyle Palmieri stay hot with an absolute snipe while finding himself on a line that got him going so quickly that it might as well have been ingested off a desk out of love for a stripper. Giving Pavel Zacha a consistent role on the roster is just as important as no longer having to remind yourself that Damon Severson is still on it, and - in conjunction with the sporadic-yet-effective efforts of Miles Wood - Palmieri did just that. They were absolutely dominant together in a way that would have demanded the spotlight if it weren't thee night in which one defenseman's vindication was vital in providing a much needed, relatively easy victory.
NHL.com- On the night the New Jersey Devils won the NHL Draft Lottery and the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, general manager Ray Shero was out with Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic at a Toronto restaurant where some members of the media had also gathered.
Some began hounding him, asking, "Who are you going to take?"
Shero eventually gave in to one reporter and said, "OK, I'll write it down on a piece of paper."
He took out a pen and wrote, "Vontae Mack no matter what," folded the paper, and handed it over.
Instead of a scoop, the reporter received a reference to the 2014 movie "Draft Day," in which fictional Cleveland Browns GM Sonny Weaver (played by Kevin Costner) wrote that message on a Post-it as a reminder to himself to select the player he wanted most in the NFL Draft.
Perhaps it's the fundamental familiarity with the popular culture with which his predecessor had eternally cut the cord that was responsible for plastering a shit eating grin across my face as I read this story. Maybe it's that the New Jersey Devils' current place in the standings has my ears prone to a perking for even the most inconsequential anecdote that features their General Manager. Whatever the case may be, the confidence that you would be crazy not to have in the man that flipped the franchise's entire script in two years time makes it so easy to appreciate - albeit in retrospect - Ray Shero's satirical nod to Kevin Costner's laughably unbelievable portrayal of personnel management.
I can't, in good conscience, act like the knot in my stomach wasn't large enough to hold a goddamn cruise ship at port as Ray Shero sauntered his way up to the podium on June 23rd. However, since going against all-too-conventional wisdom by skipping over the good ol' Canadian boy to select a smaller, more skilled center from a region that's not known for churning out top-end talent, he has given Devils' fans every reason to preemptively assume that each and every one of his decisions will prove fruitful.
The second the lottery balls fell their way, I personally wanted to see New Jersey pass on what's-his-insanely-fragile-and-punchable-face for Nico Hischier. That said, not even the most optimistic of fan could have imagined that he'd be centering the dominant top line of a contending team just nine months after Ray Shero was sarcastically passing his pledge of undying allegiance to a fictional pass rusher. That's a credit to the talent and maturity of the silky smooth Swiss, but it's also a credit to the man whose personality makes it even easier to sleep tighter given his increasingly accurate stamp of approval. He can replace the name Vontae Mack with any prospect of his choosing, because I'm on board with Ray Shero...no matter what.
Look, Taylor Hall has made it very clear that he's let bygones be bygones and moved on to the next - and hopefully soon-to-be-extended - phase of what looks to be an increasingly illustrious career...
Still, I wouldn't be surprised if he's actively avoided pinching himself since October.
At this time last year, he couldn't have dreamt up a better scenario than - fingers crossed - being on pace to make his first ever appearance in the postseason as the driving force behind the long-waited resurgence of the franchise that welcomed him with open arms. Hell, if he could've then it probably would have included the imminent demise of the team looked poised for a decade of dominance after shipping him out of town for laughably less than he was worth.
Taylor Hall will never say it because it would make him look extremely petty, but this sarcastic response to all the undue criticism he received for being a young player in a dysfunctional organization has undoubtedly been burning a hole on the tip of his twitter fingers for months now. The local media that conveniently and shortsightedly turned him into a patsy for a 10 year problem are once again desperately scrounging for a scapegoat, while he sits near the top of the one of the most stacked divisions in hockey looking down at a former employer that's regressing into irrelevance.
Abe Lincoln once said said that the truth is the best vindication against slander. I suppose it's of note that Abe Lincoln didn't have social media, but there's nothing false about the immeasurable impact that Taylor Hall has had on a young Devils' team that's headed in the complete opposite direction of the offensively starved one that deemed him expendable.
Everything is currently coming up Taylor, so if you're enough of a degenerate to bet on a gimmicky All-Star game then you'd be wise to place your money on the division in which he's suddenly ascending. Eat your heart out, Edmonton. If only because a hard head makes a soft ass, so you've probably grown sore after repeatedly having to kick your own.
If A Rivalry Is Sparked By Off-Handed Comments About The Weather Then I'm Pretty Sure It's Not a Rivalry At All
MercuryNews- Off-the-cuff comments by Sharks players about the city of Winnipeg that were recently made public have created some hurt feelings north of the border and possibly some friction between the Sharks organization and its broadcast partner, NBC Sports California.
In a since-deleted Jan. 7 tweet on a Sharks-dedicated account belonging to NBC Sports California, Sharks players Tomas Hertl, Justin Braun and Tim Heed all mentioned Winnipeg when they were asked by someone from the network what city was the worst in the NHL to play in.
Hertl said, “I think it’s Winnipeg cause every time it’s so cold and dark there. I don’t like there.” Braun said, “Winnipeg. Dark. Cold. Hotel is a little questionable. Internet doesn’t work ever. I don’t know if they have Wi-Fi there yet.”
The comments were made in September at the team’s annual media day, prior to the start of training camp. They also appeared on the network’s Sunday broadcast of the game between the Sharks and the Jets in Winnipeg.
Asked Tuesday about the comments from the Sharks players, Jets coach Paul Maurice had a simple message: Quit whining....
I can't speak to a contentious past that may or may not exist between the San Jose Sharks and either the current or past reiteration of the Winnipeg Jets. I'm not schooled enough on history of franchises to know of any bad blood, but - if this insanely petty "controversy" is all that remains - then history is all that it is.
If we were scoring this 'PG' quibbling by it's worth in eye-rolls, a player coming to the conclusion that he isn't fond of a city because one time he wasn't technologically savvy enough to figure out the WiFi is probably in lockstep with the opposing head coach who scolds those that don't treat every single second in which they are employed by the NHL as if it were their last.
Regardless, since the extent of this sniveling between the members of professional sports organizations is regional weather patterns and the daily solar cycle, I am proclaiming this feud deader than the notion that even the most occupationally fortunate don't have places they'd rather not go and things they'd rather not do.
Winnipeg probably is the place in which seasonal affective disorder was born, and Paul Maurice's insistence that his appreciation for his position has nevvver, evvver died is not only a crappy defense of his current city, but a prolonging of just about the least 'hockey tough' dispute in NHL history. We - as fans - are all softer for having had witnessed two teams try this desperately to manufacture hostility while playing a violent sport in which animosity is organic.
I Would Really Appreciate It If The NHL Stopped Cheating The Devils So I Could Truly Accept Their Shortcomings
I don't want to make it sound like I'm not appreciative of being granted a scapegoat. because if there is one thing that suspect officiating doesn't "challenge" it is the fan to think objectively about the performance of his own team. The Devils weren't playing a great brand of hockey going into their bye week, but - considering their shitty 5 game skid was marked by three OT losses in which a regulation goal was suspiciously taken off the board - it was easy to point to the transgressions of others in explaining their suddenly tumultuous relationship with winning.
The NHL and their inconsistent enforcement of rules have only been consistent in staying unfaithful to the Devils as of late, which is ironic because - much like a cheating significant other - it has encouraged fans to defer blame. As a general rule of thumb, no one finds out they are on the ass end of infidelity and immediately looks in the mirror to self-examine what may have led to their losing situation. That moment of shock and distress is not often immediately followed by an admission that you've become selfish, emotionally detached, and put on a couple dozen pounds. In that same vein, it was easy to push the lack of focus, discipline, and effort that was responsible for a blown lead third period lead to the back of the mind after a dominant first period was made fruitless by a ruling so drawn out and inconceivable that you'd swear it was made by a jury of O.J. Simpson's peers...
I suppose - by definition - that the above picture is goaltender interference. I'm not sure why a goaltender interfering with the clear path of an attacking forward would be enough to have a clear goal officially erased after approximately 20 minutes of deliberation, but what fun is hockey without extensive examinations into the millisecond-by-millisecond actions of those playing it at 10,000x the speed that it's rewound ad nauseam?
Whatever, that's not the point. The point is that enough time has passed for us to now move on from the adultery portion of Sunday's affair against the Islanders and step up to the 'acceptance' stage of the grieving process. In doing so, all outside excuses should be shunned, because anything that makes the Devils seem less guilty of pissing away a sure win is disingenuous. They simply have to be better in the second half of the season if they want to continue what they started in the first. That means more 60 minute efforts, less turnovers, and an equal amount of attention paid in the offensive and defensive zones. It would be a welcomed change if they stopped getting dicked by the officiating, but - over the last few weeks - they have made it pretty easy to get in on the action by submissively bending over and letting some bottom-feeding teams assume the role of the top for long stretches late in the game.
"We skate hard, we shoot hard. There is no more creativity, nothing, it is not pleasant to watch. I do not like the way hockey has evolved. " - Alexei Kovalev
As far as takes are concerned, I would grade this one a 'D' and - if we are being completely honest - it's only because I feel bad giving Alexei Kovalev an 'F' after how hard he worked to be a contrarian. So no, there is absolutely nothing reality-based about a critique that completely ignores the vast improvements hockey has made in terms of watchability, but if your going to claim a lack of creativity from players with never-before-seen skill sets then you damn well better do so creatively. Alexei Kovalev has clearly forgotten about the days in which a dump-and-a-chase could only be properly combatted by a clutch-and-a-grab, but hey...at least he's staying true to the philosophy of most former athletes by harboring a completely irrational disdain for everyone that's come after him.
If you watched an NHL game during Alexei Kovalev's prime and followed it up by watching a current NHL game you'd be closer to considering the entire concept of nostalgia to be a myth than you would be to longing for "the good old days" in which a simple toe drag was as mind blowing as a touch-screen cell phone. I'm not exactly Charles Darwin but I do know that the theory of evolution is reliant on adapting and improving, so I think the word Alexei Kovalev was looking for was "regressed" in his nonsensical claim that the sport of hockey - while churning out teenage sensations by the dozen - has become less aesthetically palatable. For the first time - possibly ever - the league employs multiple people that would make AK27 look as deadly as a squirt gun, so maybe he should tune in and watch the next generation dance through defenders in a way that would leave him feeling like the old white dangling around the periphery of the party.
By god, the horror! A pissed off teenager disrespecting the holier-than-thou sanctity of international sports by getting rid of a medal that symbolizes that time he came oh-so-close to winning an amateur tournament? A highly competitive player letting his disappointment get the best of him following a disheartening result in a showcase that, with it's increased popularity, has become thought of as far more significant than it actually is? How dare Sweden's captain disparage the honor of a circular piece of silver he backed into by giving it to someone that would undoubtedly give it a better home than the dark and dusty bottom of an unused desk drawer! He'll definitely live to regret that when he's potting goals for the New York Rangers as soon as next year!
By not forcing a smile through the presentation of something that he has as much use for as the ugly, ill-fitting sweater his grandmother got him for Christmas, Lias Andersson display of ungratefulness shattered the feelings of no shortage of disgruntled viewers who have never in their lives let their emotions dictate their (offline) actions. For that, he absolutely must feel the wrath of every sheriff of sportsmanship with a Twitter account!
Well, either that, or the people sitting at home stewing that a heartbroken 19 year old isn't class personified need to have a little looksy in the mirror. Maybe do a little self reflection and realize they've never received a token of their failure and been expected to stand their appreciative while those responsible for that defeat get lauded for their success. It's not like the kid refused to shake hands. All he did was peel back the curtain for overly sensitive fans that - for some reason - thought players whose futures mostly reside in the NHL give a lick of a shit about a runner-up medallion in World Juniors. If you consider Lias Andersson to be a sore loser then you probably make a fair point. However, to be such he would have had to have cared deeply about winning in the first place and I'd rather see that out of an athlete of any age than any sort of satisfaction with second place.
Oddly enough, as Sami Vatanen all-but-wiped his ass with the final page of his Defense 4 Dummiez book by blasting a slap shot directly into an oncoming opponent as the last man back, I couldn't help but feel a new found sense of closeness to him. Sure, it resulted in a half-assed hustle that was only helpful in giving him the closest of looks at the third - and eventual game winning - goal he was responsible for, but it instilled in me the comfortability to casually curse his name like I had been doing it for years.
Maybe my prolonged bachelorhood has me prone to believing in the saying "if you can't handle someone at their worst, you don't deserve them at their best", or maybe the last few years of defenseless Devils' hockey have turned a well deserved run through the ringer into an initiation process of sorts. Whatever the case may be, reading through overreactive tweets that were one step away from suggesting that Peter Harrold got reconstructive surgery and changed his name to Sami Vatanen was what it took to finally smooth the edges on his fit in New Jersey. This might be a bit belated, but welcome home Sami! Belittling you so much as a player that you begin to wonder if we truly think of you as a person is how we show love 'round these parts, and I'll be damned if the last two games haven't given us a reason to pour our hearts out.
On the bright side, if accountability truly is the guiding principle of the Devils' turnaround then I guess we can all stop bitching about getting Damon Severson back in the lineup! With Andy Greene somehow mistaking a Russian ogre in an emerald green jersey as a member of his own team and Sami Vatanen using his time (after time) in the penalty box to plot new and creative ways to sabotage his way into the suite life, there's now almost too many openings on the blue line! I personally would have preferred the defense march into John Hynes' office one-by-one and lay their jerseys on his desk - a la Rudy - if they cared that much about Damon Severson playing, but them looking as though they chose to throw the goddamn game on his behalf is exactly why they tell you to be careful what you wish for.
In all seriousness, the game last night was a reminder that the Devils' margin for error falls somewhere short of the mistakes that you'd expect from a nervous 9 year old with a full bladder. You can probably say the same for every team in the league, but when they start turning the puck over in high danger areas on plays that are obnoxiously avoidable they are going to lose almost every time. Luckily that's an issue that's only popped up sporadically (most notably, the weekend from hell against the Blue Jackets and Rangers), but - with the officiating sneaking in the backdoor and stealing points as of late - the last thing they can afford to do is go doorstep-to-doorstep giving them away. As we come up on the midway point go the season, I'm still not sure we know exactly how good this Devils' team is/can be, but they have definitely proven they are better than an effort that saw that them actively piss away a great first period.
At some point over the last two months, my blanket response to every one of John Hynes' personnel decisions became "fuck it, he's obviously smarter than me". Underlying numbers can't explain how many things have gone right this season, so as long as he keeps up the shooting percentage I am willing to keep giving the Devils' head coach the pass.
Now, if I were calling the shots then I wouldn't continue to scratch Damon Severson on the heels of three straight losses. All in all, he probably is the best Devils' best defender, and Ray Shero would have to somehow highjack the entirety of the Nashville Predators blue line for him to be considered any worse than 6th. Unfortunately, the ass I talk out doesn't seem to have a horseshoe stuck up it, so - until further notice - I agree with the guy who could seemingly swing blind and still hit .950. John Hynes has poked and prodded all the right members (including the one in question) of this young, overachieving team at all the right times thus far, so who am I to question the method to what appears to be madness?
More importantly - much like they have all season - this scratching looks like it's having the desired effect. If there's one reoccurring issue with Damon Severson then it's his wavering confidence, and there's nothing meek or timid about publicly and self-assuredly endorsing complimentary pieces about yourself on Twitter. If the title he seemed to approve of is any indication then he doesn't currently lack belief in himself. I don't know what more John Hynes wants out of the 23 year old, two-way defenseman that's in the infancy of his long-term deal, but - with how well he bounced back following his first benching - it stands to reason that he'll probably get it from him once he's back in the lineup.
Anecdotally speaking, Damon Severson has been a very good player when given something to prove, so I'd be willing to bet he'll return ready to back up the statistical evidence that he's been indignantly browsing through online. At least let's hope that's the case, for the sake of the coach whose earned enough benefit of the doubt to temporarily favor Steve Santini and Ben Lovejoy.
Perhaps I just can't relate to an 18 year old having 25 points while helping to lead a potential playoff team not even halfway through his first year in the NHL since I had only eclipsed that total in pounds of cheap booze and finger foods halfway through my first year in college at that age. Maybe I'm just not used to seeing a young phenom in a Devils' jersey since Lou Lamoriello spent the later years of his tenure in New Jersey drafting players who played like they were born in the 80's and signing free agents who were successful for the franchise in the 90's.
Whatever the case may be, in doing nothing more than pulling within 24 full months of being able to drink legally, Nico Hischier has me struggling to wrap my head around how hockey-wise he is beyond his years. It's not that I had forgot how young he was, but something about how appropriate he looks with a soccer-themed cake in his hands really drives home the idea that the Devils lucked into finding Taylor Hall a complimentary center in the form of someone that wouldn't look too out of place in a ball pit. In fact, if i weren't a Devils' fan I would actually find it scary to think about how much growing he still has to do into a body that's fit for a middle school distance runner. The way he sees and plays every aspect of the sport at a professional level while being better built to do so on an XBox is nothing short of astoundingly perplexing, and - for that reason - his maturation process looks to have a direct correlation with the trajectory of the New Jersey Devils future. His game already has less holes than the 3-ring binder you'd expect him to be carrying, so - other than a couple pounds of muscle and a bushel of pubic hair - I can't even really think of what else he'd want for his birthday. He's still at the age for presents, but what do you get someone who already has all the gifts?!?
The Standoff Between Switzerland's Backup Goalie And Canada's Carter Hart Was More Entertaining Than The Game Itself
Find your edge.
I know at least one person took it too heart when Switzerland's coach went on a pregame diatribe that essentially explained why he needed Jesus to keep it mildly respectable between two teams with a talent disparity that you truly did have to hear to believe...
...and it was Switzerland's backup goaltender.
You don't exactly have to be a NHL draft aficionado to hear the roster makeup of the two teams, and come to the conclusion that the underdog stood about as good of a chance of physically intimidating their opponent as they did of using sorcery to summon the skill of Nico Hischier in hopes of recreating 'Miracle', so intermission hijinks were definitely the play here.
Now, with the score already being 3-0, Matteo Ritz would have had to literally hypnotize Carter Hart into thinking the fastest way to a World Juniors championship was to open up a tunnel between his legs for his mind games to get a tangible return on the scoreboard. However, if you're going to lose anyway then making your far more talented opponent look like a mental midget for appearing desperate and dependent while also treating a zamboni driver like someone that's trying to take the parking spot you just pulled into during holiday shopping. If nothing else, Canada's keeper was the one that looks psychologically fragile here, and that's saying a lot considering he was currently beating the brakes off a team whose head coach preemptively guaranteed defeat.
I know Christmas has come and gone. However, due to Santa delivering nothing more than the institution of a ridiculously petty clause to any Devils' player that even thinks about entering the zone a percentage of a pubic hair prior to the puck, I'm keeping a list and checking it twice. Considering there is nothing naughty about possession plays that are broken down to the millisecond in an all-out effort to find fault well after the changing of both possession and lines, it would be pretty fucking nice if any of the gorgeous go-ahead goals the Devils have scored recently were allowed to, ya know, actually count. A strong argument can be made that both Taylor Hall and Marcus Johansson were offsides, but a strong argument can also be made that hockey wasn't meant to be officiated with a fine tooth comb for 45 fucking minutes in the middle of a tightly contested third period.
Look, it is what it is. The New Jersey Devils didn't play their best hockey in either of the games that they lost - in part - due to the NHL's decision to treat an uncrossed blue line like those laser alarm grids that you see in spy movies. But you know what? The fact that they are still two points of the division lead with two games in hand after having two points snatched away from them by a rule that's only consistent in it's ability to continuously work against them is a testament to what they've been able to accomplish while having some of their most jean-tightening momentum swings taken off the board. Call me biased, but even a wise-worded player like Taylor Hall has no problem readily admitting that the breaks have been steadily trying to crack this Devils' team...
Credit to them are absorbing them. Even after Jesper Bratt's one-timer was added to the list of forgotten highlights, the Devils still had pointblank chances to beat a strong, systematic, defensive-minded team that - in theory - has the types of players capable of suffocating their speed. Somehow this team already has enough actual victories to avoid trying to tally up those of the moral variety, but - regardless of Marcus Johansson getting ever so slightly ahead of himself - the final 40+ minutes of last night's game were yet another step in the right direction.
Hopefully they were also another kick in the dick to a universally despised rule whose reason for creation couldn't be further from it's current use, but I have my doubts.
Impossible Not To Feel Happy For The Most Unlikely Of Olympians After Watching Bobby Butler Tell His Dad He Made Team USA
Fine, I'm in. It's begrudgingly, because the sight of names like Bobby Butler and Brian O'Neill on a team I'll be rooting for take me back to a dark time as a Devils' fan. However, watching a father and son share the realization of a dream was enough of a feel good moment to overcome the nightmarish period I associate with the mention of said son's name. Perhaps I'll feel differently about the Olympics while watching a 38 year old Brian Gionta try to fill a top-6 role that he bottomed out of a decade ago, but - until I am forced to acknowledge exactly how "who's who?" this lineup is - I have reserved my seat on Team USA's bandwagon...
That doesn't mean that I wouldn't rather each country be putting their best foot forward by use of professional athletes. After all, considering the recent influx of transcendent American talent, not even an irritable asshole of a coach that thinks toughness is the key to succeeding on an international ice surface could sabotage the skill of a roster that would feature players like Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, and Zach Werenski.
On the other hand, it does mean that I couldn't feel happier for a group of guys who either worked tirelessly to find that forever fleeting spotlight or thought theirs died out years ago. The aesthetics of the hockey will absolutely leave a lot to be desired, but if there is one thing that Team USA won't lack it's likability. At the very least, the back stories of those populating the land of misfited NHLers should get me to remain emotionally invested in their performance until the second round robin game is being played at some ungodly hour halfway across the world. I can definitively say that - prior to having this clip dust up my apartment - I didn't expect to devote even one single second to the whereabouts of Matt Gilroy in the year in 2018.
As someone that's spent far too much time and effort playing hockey for the love of the game, I couldn't not smile while watching Bobby Butler's proud father find out that his son will get a chance to win an Olympic gold medal, regardless of the circumstances that led to it.
In Overturning Taylor Hall's Jaw-Dropping Go-Ahead Goal, The NHL Made It Clear That They Tooootally Have Their Priorities Straight
You really have to hand it to the NHL. 'Tis the season for resolutions, and in erasing a goal that stood well more than an outside chance of being on every season long 'Top Ten' list, they got a head start on reinforcing their priorities prior to the turn of the calendar.
You might say there was nothing definitive about the footage that turned some heart-stopping hand-eye coordination into an unfortunate afterthought. However, what says "we must do everything possible to create more scoring" quite like giving the benefit to doubt when one of your most electrifying stars gives even the most casual of fans a reason to talk about your product? Seriously, that millimeter of space that may or may not have existed between the ice and Taylor Hall's skate as the puck passed over the blue line may seem like an obnoxiously insignificant reason to take a goal off the board, but when the all-important integrity of the rules is potentially at stake? I would much rather have goaltenders defend soccer-sized nets while wearing youth shin guards than ignore it in the name of transcendent skill...
Look, I know I am biased, but the truth of the matter is that I am not pissed that the overturning of a goal that was originally called as such cost the Devils a game. It sucks to blow a two goal lead to a bottom feeder, but - after ripping off five straight home wins - they probably could have used a let down game (no matter how complicit the refs were in making it head in that direction) prior to facing a divisional opponent they have yet to prove themselves against. The last thing a young team heading to play a perennial (regular season) powerhouse on the wrong side of a back-to-back needs is the false confidence provided by an extra point they didn't totally deserve. We'll know in a few short hours whether or not last night was a minor setback for a major comeback, but it's certainly not outside the realm of possibility that it could have served as the reality check they've avoided throughout a surreal winning streak.
That said, I am pissed that due to a nonsensical decision that flies in the face of literally every other rule the NHL has enforced in an effort for more offense, I won't soon be seeing what was one of the year's most brilliant displays of offense. Taylor Hall made Robin Lehner look more stupid than his own suggestion that the entirety of the sports world is colluding against the city of Buffalo, and he did so after swatting an airborne puck backwards to himself. If you're not a Devils fan then this blog is perhaps the first you've seen of it, and that just feels wrong. The one superstar who somehow manages to end up on the ass end of every 50/50 call had a highlight stolen from a reel that's already exponentially longer than that of New Jersey's last 3-4 seasons.
The thief, you ask? The league that swears up and down that it will do anything to create more goals....as long as it doesn't involve getting rid of momentum-shattering, excitement-draining challenges in which centimeter-sized judgements are made by someone squinting at a television screen.
Russia's Punishment For Their History Of Olympic Doping Is Essentially That They Now Have To Dress Stupid While They Compete
TheComeback- The Russian Olympic Assembly recently voted to participate in the 2018 Olympics under a neutral flag, which is allowed by the International Olympic Committee as long as those granted permission to compete agree to follow outlined rules...
...that means there will be a Russian hockey team in the games. Earlier this week, a possible leaked image of the proposed jersey for the “Russian” team were unearthed to give a glimpse as to what the team could look like. It basically looks like the generic hockey team’s uniform you create in a video game’s custom-team mode...
Ha! Take that Russia! That'll teach your most prominent athletes to stop compromising the integrity of international competition by transfusing their blood with that of the region's most fertile steed! This might seem like slap-on-the-wrist public shaming that would have a more dire effect on the reputation of a runway model. However, if overused sports' cliches have taught me anything it's that it's basically impossible for The Red Army to either feel good or play good when they look like they've been clothed by The Salvation Army. Bet they won't be able to fully appreciate the experience while having to glance down at their boring ass uniforms and accept that they are merely a resident of their country, as opposed to a representative for it. Suck on those semantics, you unsportsmanlike substance abusers.
Honestly, I don't particular care that the Russian training regime is more dependent on needles than the art of acupuncture. They tend to be sub-par in the only sports that I care about, so maybe those growth hormones were necessary in making sure their athletic performance on a global stage wasn't embarrassingly pubescent. I suppose that remains to be seen as their upcoming inclusion is coming at the expense of both drugs and what little fashion sense they appeared to have.
That said, if you're the IOC maybe it's smart to set a precedent that creating a culture of unlawfully playing above the field for years on end isn't only punishable by the wearing of a jersey that might as well say "I did Russian steroids and all I got was this stupid t-shirt". Keeping in mind some of fads I have fallen victim to in the past, throwing on something that serves as a scarlet letter for a week or two seems like a pretty small price to pay to continue playing for a gold medal. Especially since surrounding a boring logo with generic font is generally the way in which locally-run youth leagues weed out the kids who don't have a true love for the game.
You Need To Listen To Two Ottawa Senators' Broadcasters Discussing 'Grindr' Without Having Any Clue What It Actually Is
OutSports- Ottawa Senators hockey announcers Dean Brown and Gord Wilson were promoting their post-game radio call-in show on TSN1200 Saturday for the game against the Montreal Canadiens when the discussion veered into, of all things, the gay meet-up app Grindr.
Timothy Burke of Deadspin captured the audio, but here is a transcript:
Dean Brown: “Gord and I ... [will take] calls, questions, emails — Tinder, Twitter, Grindr — all the social media stuff. They'll have that going on after the game tonight.”
Gord Wilson: “Grindr?”
Brown: “Well, I don't know what any of them do, so I just mention them all.”
Wilson: “Is Grindr a thing?”
Brown: “I guess so, I don't know what it is though.”
Wilson: “Wow, I can only imagine what's found on Grindr or who's found on Grindr.”
Brown: “I think it probably has something to do with those Mix Masters, those grinder attachments.”
Wilson: “OK, uh-huh”
Brown: “Probably all the things you can grind with one of those machines, cheese, vegetables. We'll get Matt to figure out what that is and let us know what Grindr actually is. I heard it and know it's part of the social media thing. Not that I’m old and not into this.”
Not for nothing, but this entire interaction - completely free of it's inherent hilarity - is quite the endorsement of homosexuals and their ability to market themselves better than heterosexuals. Let's be real here. Tinder got mindlessly included in that extremely random list of irrelevant social medias due the popularity of the name, but Grindr got obliviously lumped in due to the catchiness of the name.
Now, I'd absolutely love to find out where Dean Brown was when he overheard a conversation that made mention of a gay "dating" app that apparently stuck with him through to the broadcast. However, the fact that his partner heard it - presumably without any prior knowledge - and immediately knew they had ventured into questionable territory is a testament to how edgy said app sounds.
It's 2017 so there's not anything weird or out of the ordinary about homosexuals wanting to sex each other up in a timely manner, but it's safe to say that the creators of Grindr were successful in having their product sound out of place as a way of contacting two older men interested in fetishizing nothing more than a repressed professional sport. Sports radio might be filled with blow hards, but - since the hosts generally do an anti-climactic job of providing stimulation - it's probably for the best that one of them was instinctually able to hear the need for a disassociation when the other completely misread the context of his technological eavesdropping.
They are both a ways away from the loop, but at least someone in the booth had an elementary enough sense of brand awareness to realize that nothing about the name Grindr lends itself to conveniently offering crappy, frustratingly uninformed opinions about hockey. Shockingly, it wasn't the guy that thought meat pulverizers had their own means of online communication.
Despite Adam Henrique's Best Efforts, The Devils Proved Victorious During Retribution Night At 'The Rock'
Truth be told, it was tough to feel anything but good for Adam Henrique last night. As odd as it was to take any sort of satisfaction in the play of someone that took the ice in a jersey that was decidedly not red and black, the man that became lovingly known as 'Rico' handled his return in such a flawless manner that the only type of hostility in the crowd was temporary self loathing. After all, he did exactly what any self respecting ex is supposed to do. He got a little sentimental, showed a lot of appreciation, and - though it will go largely unspoken - came out as ready as ever to flaunt his entire array of goods to the franchise that decided they'd already seen the best of them.
Never mind that it was his picture perfect break out pass that kickstarted the Ducks' second goal of the night...
...because as he followed it up by alleying the puck over the head of the player he was traded for, you couldn't help but feel like Adam Henrique had something gut-punching in store for the oop...
Now, it's fair to ask where that move was throughout the extensive scoring drought he trudged through shortly before being moved, but - if I had to guess - I'd say it was probably tucked neatly into the back of the closet next to the little red dress that's saved for only the most jilted of lovers. In the same way that makes you hesitant to check a former flame's Instagram, that "how you like me now?" moment that completely posterized Sami Vatanen and undoubtedly overshadowed his first point as a New Jersey Devil was annoyingly well deserved.
Unfortunately, for him anyway, it wasn't enough to swing the outcome of a game that proved why Adam Henrique was expendable in the first place. Aided by Ryan Miller's inability to age gracefully, the Devils comeback victory over the Ducks highlighted their depth at forward. Miles Wood Tasmanian'd the Devils back into the game, Jesper Bratt whipped them back to even by putting a little cherry on the top shelf, and Stefan Noesen - with the help of the birthday boy, Brian Boyle - provided a painful reminder to his former team that there were more than two players in the building who were looking to prove a personnel decision regrettable. New Jersey put up five goals and they didn't even need a single point from the three players manning their top line to do so.
Facts aren't as glaring as flash, so it's easy to consider Adam Henrique the winner of the breakup since his complete and utter emasculation of the player that was deemed more valuable by the market will rightfully be rewound on every end-of-year hockey highlight reel. That said, as heartbreakingly true as it is, last night was the perfect example of why both parties are potentially better off without one another.
Adam Henrique won the battle, the Devils won the war, and - in a game that was far too emotional for a mid-December tiff between two out-of-conference opponents - both had their chance to feel better about a split that was somewhat silently imminent. For a fanbase that will forever have a special place in their heart for Rico (and vice versa), that really was the best possible outcome.
P.S. My heart just grew three sizes...