From where I sit, Boston does not seem like a nice place to stay for a few days during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Did you hear the thunderous roar of that crowd in the second and third periods? When you're down 4 goals in a finals road game, and that ravenous crowd starts screeching for the cup, I can't help but wonder what the Canucks were feeling at that moment: annoyance, or absolute dread?
I'd bet on the latter, but then again, I'm no pro athlete. Neither are those who flew all the way to Boston to support Vancouver, only to be spat upon, and have beer poured on them by Boston's elite citizenry. I also wonder what was going through their minds when they opted to stash their Canucks jerseys inside the hotel's dresser, to avoid being ruthlessly harassed and drenched in foreign bodily fluids.
I get this information from one of the CBC's lackey's. Since he's a small player in the broadcast team, I can't recall his name, but he told us this last night, then tried to remind us that "it is only a game, after all." Well, that's where you're wrong, Bubba. This series has completely spilled over the brim of sportsmanship, and now, it's war. That might sound a little melodramatic to some, but make no mistake about it, the atmosphere in our fair city is about to thicken drastically.
It all started out so well for Vancouver. Seconds into the game, Kesler put Bergeron on his back. Right out of the face-off, as though Patrice were no more than a mutt, a nuisance to be cast off to the side while the men took care of business.
This was good for Vancouver, at least in theory. It established that they weren't going to be pushed around by the big bad Bruins.
The Canucks continued to outshoot, and generally outplay Boston throughout the first. But they still gave up that vital first goal. Letting concussed Horton's replacement, Rich Peverley, careen down the boards and slide rubber through Luongo's 5-hole.
Vancouver outshot Boston in every period of this game. And got fewer penalties, too. Which goes to show that the harder and deeper you look into statistics, the less factual they become.
Nearly all of Vancouver's shots in the second half of the game hit Thomas right in the 'B'. By then, they were so utterly desperate to get one past him, I'm a bit surprised they didn't try to take him out.
Yes, indeed. Who will be the one to break Tim Tam's spirit? What if he doesn't let another goal in all year? Considering the way he's been playing, it doesn't even seem all that unreasonable.
Tim Thomas(I can't stress enough how painful it is for me to praise Thomas, but it's simply unavoidable at this point) looks like the only one who's actually competing for a Stanley Cup. His tending has been near super-human, and he's risen above the petty bickering of this series with all the grace and civility of a lazy brown bear coming out of hibernation.
Why are hockey's elite diving all over the ice like a bunch of Brazilians? At a time like this! Where are the bygone days of noblesse, when hockey players at least respected each other enough to settle their scores between whistles?
Obviously, those days are over.
These days, we slash everyone in sight, we beak each other off(probably a large percentage of this beaking is geared towards the opposition's mothers), we slap each other, and spend more time trying to catch the referee's attention than actually playing hockey.
What is this crap, the NBA? Gary Bettman must be responsible, somehow.
He just might be, too. Does it not seem completely ridiculous to anyone else that the league is amending the rules of the NHL during a Stanley Cup final? This time, they want to take the word 'blindside' out of Rule #48, the one about not trying to decapitate someone. If all these fat-bellied hacks want to do is sit around conference tables in luxurious hotels and talk about the specific wording of rules, that's fine. But there should at least be a deadline on changing the rules; and it should be no later than the trade deadline. If the NHL doesn't want the teams doing any last-minute wheeling and dealing during the playoffs, I'm sure the players don't want any tweaking and twoddling of the rules at the last-minute, either.
But all that is beside the point. It ultimately doesn't matter if the word 'blindside' appears anywhere in the rule book or not. These guys know, or at least should know, how to play hocker properly.
Frustration is a definite factor. The Canucks seem to only be able to handle about 25 or 30 minutes of not scoring before they start to unravel, at least recently. Getting that first period goal is going to be crucial to Vancouver's survival in this series. They need that goal. Or, they'll need to learn how to cope in a scoreless chess match.
Vancouver's mistakes in the first half of game 4 were fairly minor, but they cost the Canucks dearly each time. A missed hit, a bad dump, and some horrible fumbling behind their own net. Suddenly they're down 3-0. Vancouver made a pretty good push at the end of the second, but couldn't secure a goal. The momentum would not even look in their general direction for the remainder of the game.
After the brutal bounce that gave Peverley his second of the night, watching the rest of game 4 was like seeing a loved battle a slow-spreading, yet crippling and deadly illness. Even the announcers gave up on the game.
I have to commend the CBC for their outstanding coverage of these playoffs. The ability to live stream almost any game has brought me no end of joy. And their work with the city to setup those fan zones, essentially centralizing a hardcore base of fans that can watch the game for free, has been nothing short of miraculous. But last night, their announcers acted like a bunch of embittered old men. Which they probably are, so that makes sense. But they should at least have the decency to keep it off the air.
With an astronomical 14 minutes left in the third period of game 4, the CBC's version of Statler and Waldorf completely gave up on calling the 'action'. For the better part of the following 3 minutes, Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson talked about whether or not Luongo would start on Friday. This conversation was as inane as you'd imagine. Fortunately, they were forced to do their jobs when Mark Recchi got a high-sticking penalty with 11 minutes left.
Why is every aspect of Canadian hockey folding over itself before the games are even over? I can at least understand that the Canucks are fed up with (statistically) outplaying a team, only to be brutally slayed in the span of a few minutes. But what excuse do those grouchy old balcony dwellers who are supposed to announce these games have?
It's a pretty sweet gig to be able to watch, and call a hockey game. Hughson and Simpson's (or Statler and Waldorf, as they'll be referred to from now on) performance in the late stages of last night's game was absolutely pitiful. It enrages me to think that hockey analysts flooded the dressing room last night to criticize the Canucks' play; when 65 feet above their heads, the two muppets doing the play-by-play quit on the game long before the Canucks did.
But all that is in the past. We're coming back home. Far from the flying beers and loogies of Boston. We (and I do mean we: you, me, all the Canucks, and all the fans in the stands and in the streets...even Statler and Waldorf) must come together to crush the only force that could keep the cup out of Vancouver: Tim Tam. Damn that Tim Tam. In Boston, he is king, he is God. But here, half a world away, he's noting more than a pest.
I'm not saying we should spit at the Bruins, and I'm certainly not saying we should waste our beer on them. That would be ridiculous, and un-Canadian. Bostonians think they're loud and tough, eh? Let's show the definition of loud. Brick walls are erected and taken down each and every day. It won't be easy, but the Canucks must crack Tim's bricks, and we'll shove him off his rocker...by sheer volume.