Thursday, 30 April 2015

NHL Playoffs, Round 2

I had a pretty good Round 1, going 7/8, the only blemish being the Islanders losing Game 7 to the Capitals. Let's see what happens in Round 2:

Calgary over Anaheim in 6

I'm honestly pretty skeptical about this one, as I believe the injuries to the Flames' defense has to catch up to them at some point, but I will stick to my original prediction that the Flames would make it to the Conference Finals before losing to....

Chicago over Minnesota in 5

Devan Dubnyk? OK I don't believe anymore. Yes I do, actually, but the Hawks are just too good. I think.

NY Rangers over Washington in 5

As I'm typing this the Rangers have already lost Game 1 but I made these predictions before that so I'm sticking with them. Not crazy about my chances at this point.

Tampa Bay over Montreal in 7

Another one I'm not totally convinced on, but I picked the Lightning to win it all before the playoffs began and I'm sticking to it. They found a way to beat the plucky Red Wings without any contributions from Steven Stamkos. I'm guessing he will contribute in this round.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

And away we go....NHL Playoffs, round 1

Well it has been an up and down season for my NHL teams! More down that up, of course, as 4 of the 5 of them are yelling "FORE" right about now. Quite a shock that the only one still alive is the only one I predicted not to make it: my beloved Calgary Flames.

And as if that wasn't enough, they drew a dream first round matchup. Now before the Canucks fans reading this chuckle as if I'm just taking another shot at a team I despise, ask yourself this question: If YOU were a Flames fan, who (of the teams they could have legitimately faced) would you want them to be playing in Round 1? Anaheim? Chicago? St. Louis?

Or Vancouver?


Can't wait for this series. Yes, I wish the Flames were completely healthy, but we have survived with huge injuries most of the season (although I think we may find out just how important Lance Bouma is during his absence from these playoffs) so we can certainly make it through a round without him.

So here we are, my predictions for Round 1


Calgary over Vancouver in 5

The Flames lead in every meaningful statistical category (although all are close) and despite the injuries, should really have no trouble here. Sometimes Cinderella shows up to the ball and f'n dominates it....

Anaheim over Winnipeg in 5

.....and sometime Cinderella shows up late, falls down the stairs and rips her dress. I've said it all along, the Jets roster isn't a playoff team (I predicted them last overall in the pre-season) and although I think the Ducks are vulnerable in some ways, not to these guys.

Having said that, Ondrej Pavelec hasn't allowed a goal since Nixon was re-elected, so if he keeps that up, it will be tough to beat them. I'm saying he won't.

Minnesota over St. Louis in 6

Devan Dubnyk? Really? OK, OK, I've seen enough, I believe. The Blues are a stacked team but Minnesota has been great since Mike Yeo's infamous practice-meltdown and I think they pull off the mild upset here.

Chicago over Nashville in 5

Yeah Pekka Rinne is great, but Chicago just has too many weapons and the news that Patrick Kane is going to play in Game 1, about 4-5 weeks before expected, tips the scales way in their favor.


Montreal over Ottawa in 5

This was the nightmare matchup for Ottawa; they only way they can beat anyone is to out-goaltend them. Can the Hamburgler do that to Carey Price, the consensus league MVP? No way.

Tampa Bay over Detroit in 6

Here is my bold prediction: whomever wins this series wins the Stanley Cup. Detroit is well balanced, well coached, and features two series-changing forwards in Datsyuk and Zetterberg. However, Tampa Bay is a firepower machine, the highest scoring team in the regular season, and it would take Herculean goaltending from Mrazek or Howard to steal this one, methinks.

NY Rangers over Pittsburgh in 5

How can a team with Crosby and Malkin be THIS big an underdog to anyone? Well, have you seen their injury-ravaged defense? Word has it they reached out to Paul Coffey to comeback to help them out. King Henrik may not be quite back to pre-injury form yet, but in this series he probably won't have to be.

NY Islanders over Washington in 7

This should be a great series and could go either way, but I think the Islanders time is now. Washington really has a big statistical advantage, particularly in goals against, but I'm going to call this series the official coming out party for John Tavares.

So what happens next? My Flames make it to the Western Conference Finals before being dispatched by the Hawks, who come within a hair of winning another Stanley Cup, losing in 7 games to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa's goaltender, Ben Bishop, wins the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

So now you know. Go out and bet the other way.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The Vancouver Canucks, their fans, and something that actually matters

Last evening, I had the good fortune of attending Rogers Arena, for a contest between the Vancouver Canucks and a team that actually doesn't make me want to puke, the Los Angeles Kings. While there, I was reminded of the immortal words of the great Denis Lemieux:

(in strong French accent)

"My these fucking fans.....has returned."

While standing outside the arena in my Kings jersey and hat, minding my own business, having said absolutely NOTHING to any of the passing Canucks fans, waiting for my buddy who had the tickets, I was approached by a young C-U-Next-Tuesday who told me how ugly I was. Yes, how ugly *I* was. Not the jersey I was wearing was ugly (well, that too), but *I* was ugly for wearing a Kings jersey.

Now, you would have had to see her to really understand how ironic that comment was. She was wearing a blue T-shirt that said "STAY CALM AND BO HORVAT". I kid you not. You can't make that kind of shit up. STAY CALM AND BO HORVAT. Holy shit. If that wasn't enough, her boyfriend, who was at least smart enough not to chime in and make it worse, was wearing a Todd Bertuzzi jersey; and not just ANY Bertuzzi jersey, one of these monstrosities:

Yeah, MY jersey was ugly.

 I have admitted many times that when I go to Rogers Arena, which isn't that often, one of my truly great pleasures is tormenting Canucks fans as much as I possibly can. If I can lessen their enjoyment of a hockey game to any degree, I feel like I have achieved greatness.

But WHY do I feel that way? Well, the little bitch mentioned above is a pretty good example of my experience with these people. But it is SO much more than that. 

I say "FUCK YOU", to the Canucks fan who threw a full pop at me, missing my head by about a half inch, spraying pop on the wall behind me in (around) 1982. I was twelve years old, and not doing anything but cheering on my beloved Calgary Flames who were kicking the crap out of the hapless Canucks.

I say "FUCK YOU" to the asshole who threw a hot dog in my face, spilling mustard on my jersey, around the same time period. A security guard, upon being called by a nice lady, told me I DESERVED that treatment for wearing a Flames jersey into the Pacific Coliseum. Man, did I ever have nerve. This security guard removed the offending dog-tosser, but rather than remove him from the building, simply relocated him to another section. FUCK YOU, Mr. rent-a-cop.

I say "FUCK YOU" to the guy who dumped half a beer on my head, ruining my favorite Flames hat and staining another jersey.

All of these things, and a few other random threats of violence, happened to me before I was old enough to drive. Gee, I WONDER why I am predisposed to hate Canucks fans?

A handful of years ago, I bought two sets of Canucks tickets and presented them to my wife, who was a Canucks fan at the time, for Xmas. I intentionally bought tickets to games featuring teams I did not care about, Columbus and Minnesota, so as to avoid any potential conflict or incident. We were excited to get to the game against Columbus. We had great seats. Sitting about 5 rows behind us were two assholes who showed up for the game completely hammered, proceeded to get up and get as much beer as they could legally acquire, and generally make complete asses of themselves for the first half of the first period. They were so loud, obnoxious and lewd, that a young lady who had brought a very young child to the game (don't get me started on why you'd bring a baby to a hockey game) got up and left before the first period was over. I called security over and said something, and these two idiots decided they were now going to spend the entire last two periods yelling at ME, hurling insults and chanting obscenities at me. Remember, as far as they knew, I was a Canucks fan, I wasn't cheering for Columbus and had not been remotely obnoxious. Needless to say, we ended up giving away the other tickets and my wife has never been back to a Canucks game. In fact, she is not even a Canucks fan anymore (thank Heaven for small favors). To those assholes, I say FUCK YOU.

A couple years after that, I went to a Canucks/Flames game in my Iginla jersey. The Canucks opened up an early 2-0 lead, and the two jackasses sitting directly behind me decided it would be a good idea to lean down to within about a half inch of my ear, and YELL insults into my ear because I had the nerve to show up in a Flames jersey. Keep in mind it was 2-0 Canucks, I had not said a word to them, I had not engaged them at all, I had not cheered, I had done nothing except show up in an Iginla jersey. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed tormenting them the rest of the game as the Flames came back, and when Iginla scored the game winner in the third period, it's amazing how quiet they suddenly got. To them, I say FUCK YOU. Actually, I already said that to them in person, while showing them the middle finger on each hand. But just for posterity's sake, FUCK YOU.

The other day, I made a comment on Twitter about something stupid that Alexandre Burrows had done. One fine gentleman responded to my criticism with this gem of wisdom: "Your mother is a cunt whore".

Hmm. Well, I'm pretty sure she isn't, sir, but I'll look into that for you. And even if she IS, how does that have anything to do with Alex "I'm going to bite you" Burrows??

And let's face it, I'm not the only one to suffer abuse from Canucks fans. It's well documented that during the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, the elderly grandparents of Bruins player Milan Lucic were verbally harassed and pelted with peanuts. Very nice. FUCK YOU.

Any time that I mention this, I am inevitably told "oh well, that's just a few bad eggs, every fan base has those". Maybe. But this is not a "FEW" bad eggs. It's a prevailing problem in this fan base; in this city. 

Quick Jeopardy question: "The only city in North America that has seen TWO riots at the end of a major sports championship".

"What is Vancouver, Alex".

Yeah, that's just a few bad eggs. Those eggs multiplied into a riot. Twice. TWICE.

I lived in Calgary for three years. I went to many Flames games, and there were plenty of visiting fans, particularly Oilers and Canucks. Although I was never excited to see visiting fans in the Saddledome, I always treated them with respect, and so do the other Flames fans. I never saw one fight in the stands in three years. NOT ONE FIGHT. 

Of course, we all remember the spring of 2004, when the Flames came so close to winning the Stanley Cup, falling in game 7 in Tampa Bay. The Flames fans created quite a bit of controversy, setting the city ablaze, turning over police cars, beating up anyone in a visiting jers.....wait, what's that? They didn't do ANY of that? So what was the big controversy?

Oh yeah, a bunch of young girls flooded the Red Mile and flashed their tits. Oh, those crazy Flames fans.

I've been to games in Anaheim and Los Angeles, in visiting jerseys. Always treated with respect. OK my wife may disagree with that last statement, as the Kings mascot Bailey did wipe his ass and tail on her Canucks jersey, but if being playfully mocked by the team mascot is the worst thing that happens to you in a visiting arena, I think you've done OK.

I enjoy playful banter with Canucks fans (or fans of any opposing team). Just last night, standing in line at a concession, we made conversation with a 20-something girl in a Vancouver Millionaires hat and her boyfriend who were in front of us in line. They respectfully commented on my jersey and hat, I retorted back, and all was good. He was wearing a Burrows jersey so I was careful not to get my fingers anywhere near his mouth, but I digress. As they left I smiled at her and told her to "enjoy your game". Clearly, classy Canucks fans exist. But I can honestly say that I could count the number of positive experiences I've had with them on one hand, and have some fingers left over to make obscene gestures with.

Last night, the Kings opened the scoring just over one minute into the game. I stood up and clapped, as did many other Kings fans. It's possible that I might have yelled something along the lines of "WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?!?!?!", but c'mon, that's an old joke. Seriously, that was the only remotely obnoxious thing I did all night. When Henrik Sedin was given a video tribute for scoring his 700th NHL assist, I stood up, dropped my pants and mooned the little Swedish bitch.

No, of COURSE I didn't, I stood and gave him the ovation he deserved. What a player. 

I'm not asking for credit for applauding him, just providing some context; there was little reason for anyone to be mad at me for anything I had done that night. 

After the Canucks had won the shootout, my friend and I walked up the stairs to the exit, where a drunken behemoth decided that it was a good time for him to shoulder-chuck me, while screaming "WOOOOOOOOOOO" about a half inch from my face. He did it twice, and twice I responded by shoving him back and telling him to keep his fucking hands off me. I honestly don't know what prevented this into turning into a brawl, and part of me honestly regrets that he backed off because sending a Canucks fan to the hospital would have crossed one thing off my bucket list. Still, cooler heads prevailed and I made my way out of the arena, and that was that. Honestly, this is probably the incident that prompted this blog post. I likely would have overlooked the incident with the Bo Whore-Vat from before the game. But this is the type of thing that so many Canucks fans think is acceptable. A guy who he's never met, who he has had zero interaction with, who has the unmitigated gall to wear a jersey of another team to a hockey game, he deserves to be assaulted. FUCK YOU.

Do I hate the Canucks? Difficult question to answer. I would probably say "yes", if I had to answer the question, but with a lot of reservation.

I don't even hate all the Canucks players, or members of their organization. How could anyone not respect Trevor Linden or the Sedins? Mattias Ohlund? Markus Naslund? It doesn't matter what jersey you wear, or wore. Class is class. 

I have good friends who are Canucks fans. The buddy who took me to the game last night has recently adopted the Canucks as his second team (his first team being the Buffalo Sabres; I guess eventually he got frustrated cheering for a team who has existed for over 40 years without ever having won Jesus Christ, that poor sonofabitch is a glutton for punishment). My brother-in-law, a great guy who I love and respect, is a die-hard. I regularly interact with several Canucks fans on social media who are generally intelligent and decent people. It's not necessarily about the human being. 

You can be a Canucks fan, and I might like you. I might even love you.

But I hate you.

And that's never going to change.

Go whomever-the-Canucks-are-playing-tonight.