Friday, December 31, 2010

The year that was, the year that will be.

You're probably all missing Rookie right now, as I am not the most reliable of bloggers seeing as I have missed just about the last ...oh, five games in a row due to the holidays and really, just not being around. I even betrayed you all for a bit by entering the ACC at the same time the Habs were set to face off against Dallas. Note that missing this much hasn't happened in the last twelve years, which either says something about my poker-playing skills or bad train-scheduling abilities.

But the Habs haven't exactly made me feel terrible about missing their frustrating, heart-wrenching, goal-starved performances. My phone has almost been choked to death the number of times I refresh my GameCenter app, hoping it's lying to me. I get back in the car on the way home and callers always seem to be on the verge of becoming clone artists of Angry Sal. It's upsetting and certainly unsettling that this is what they're going through, but maybe sitting these games out is what allows me not to want to panic, and be almost alone in that boat.

Or maybe it's the experience. 1998 was not your bandwagon 2004 year by any means, and that's when I came on board. AKA slumps like these are not the worst I've seen.

This. This is probably the worst thing I've seen.

This year marked a lot of things for the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge, which can (and should be) called upon to remember in times like these:
  • Injuries, callups, demotions. Andrei Kostitsyn had knee surgery and Max Pacioretty ...he was just plain not ready. Despite all the flack he gets, Kostitsyn is still third in team scoring and leads with +9, whereas Pacioretty, after his excellent start in the AHL this season, was the lone guy to get on the board for the Habs last night.
  • More injuries. The world seemed to end when Mike Cammalleri showed up in crutches to practice that day in February. Despite missing 17 games, he came back just in time for the playoffs and was instrumental in the Habs' run with 19 points in 19 games, 13 of them goals.
(But first we had to see him in That Suit. The one that did not look one bit like this one, unfortunately.)
  • Pierre Gauthier named General Manager. In what can at best be called a bizarre move at a time no one expected anything from Bob Gainey, much less him stepping down, a new/old face stepped up to fill the void leaving Habs' fans more confused than before. He still gets questioned on a daily basis, but now it's "that Gauthier" instead of "that Gainey." More on what he HAS done later, though.
  • Mid-February: P.K. Subban called up. His status then was God, with 39 points, a +29 and having all sorts of roles in record-breakers in Hamilton. His status now... not so much. I'm about to quote a girly movie, and I won't tell you which one, but we have to remember what used to be good, otherwise we won't recognize it if it hits us between the eyes.
  • 24/7 has nothing on us. Possibly the best thing to happen to both the Penguins and the Capitals was facing the Habs in the playoffs this season. The two seven-game series were supposed to come out with different victors, but when does what's SUPPOSED to happen actually happen, anyway?
  • Halaknophobia. Which is quite possibly the most amusing headline has ever come up with, seeing as they're not Rookie. Who can forget the stop-signs and the walls and agent drama and goalie drama and putting that aside and just winning, for goodness' sake, and winning big. In the regular season, in the playoffs, bringing with it the hero status and The Trade. Oh no.

  • And Pierre Gauthier's move eventually makes some bit of sense. The re-signing of Tomas Plekanec to a six year deal, keeping the guy who's currently leading the Canadiens in scoring where he should be and where he always pictured himself being despite the temptations of free-agency. It's a move that validates itself every day.
  • Marc-Andre Bergeron: not re-signed. And thank your lucky stars. Could you imagine the state of the current D when he's what you have to rely on? Not that the suggestion won't be brought up again in these times of so-called peril #JustSayNo
  • Guy Boucher named AHL Coach of the Year...only to wind up in Tampa Bay. And that's the last reference to last night's game that I think I'm going to safely be able to use in this post. But you have to admit it has enough bite to act as a motivator. Right? Right?
  • Dan Ellis and Dustin Boyd to Montreal for S. Kostitsyn. Harsh critiques and Twitter-wars of massive proportions ensued in what would ordinarily be considered the least blockbuster-esque move in pre-July 1st history. Now, slowly but surely, Kostitsyn has found his niche in Nashville, which at least some of us wished for him (and even those that didn't can take solace in the fact that he's so far from this division it doesn't even matter), whereas Carey Price didn't even need Ellis, and Dustin Boyd, after a tumultuous heart-breaking series of waiver-trips, has exploded for ten goals in the AHL's longest goal-streak this season.
  • Finally, a Captain. Brian Gionta was given the 'C', becoming the 28th player to wear it in the Habs' history. He now leads the team in goals (tied with Cammalleri) with 12 and shots with 150 (where he's also eighth in the whole league).
  • Markov out again. Emphasis on again, because that word implies that it's happened before. It's starting to be felt only as of late, even if people might forget it happened back in November. That in itself is how far this team has come. Josh Gorges joins him now, and that's going to hurt more, but with injuries to the D comes the reminder of the LAST line of defense, which leads to...
  • The resurgence of Carey Price. First stars and Molson Cups aplenty for the guy most had given up on last season, including him in trade rumours of the worst kind that are hopefully documented in many places where we can laugh at them. Who's that guy that didn't even make it to the All Star Ballot and is only behind--who is it? Marc-Andre Fleury in the goalie slot? Hmm.
I'm set to miss a sixth game in a row, unless Santa brought my grandfather RDS and didn't tell him about it. I'm going to go with no. And tonight the opponents are the Florida Panthers. Despite it being the second half of a back-to-back, call it just a little hunch that this team isn't about to surrender a 2010-ending W that easily.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Plus/Minus is not going to make a "Boxing Day" pun

Hope you all had a great Christmas, even if you don't celebrate it. Plus/Minus is a little short this week because sometimes I talk too much, so I'm giving my dear readers the gift of brevity.

+ It's always nice when Team Canada wins their first game. This applies to both the World Juniors and the Spengler Cup, where former Hab Glen Metropolit is playing for Canada. (Bonus plus: I now kind of know what the Spengler Cup is!)
+ David Desharnais named AHL's First Star of the Week!
+ Andrei Kostitsyn scored a goal, to shut up all the haters. And Alexandre Picard has been making himself useful as well, which I guess should shut me up.

- Lost to the New York Islanders. You know what hurts? Watching your Habs lose to the Islanders, then seeing the highlights three times on Sportscentre.
- Okay, I take it back. That probably didn't hurt as much as whatever mystery ailment is plaguing Josh Gorges. I've known for a while that things aren't going well for Josh, but now he isn't playing well, and Dave Stubbs reported that he left practice limping. I do not like any of this. At all.
- I almost forgot about that game against the Dallas Stars, but then I remembered. I wish I hadn't. (Aside: Conan was really funny that night, as I found out the next day.)
- I wasn't going to complain about anything I saw on 24/7, because I didn't want the show to hold back. But Matt Hendricks' bloody eye was a little tough to look at for extended periods of time. And Crosby's cup was the kind of thing that would have made me nauseous, if I hadn't known about it in advance and shielded my eyes.

What awesome Christmas gifts did you all get? Or give?
I went for a walk early last week in the cold (I just needed to move a bit and clear my mind), spent some time wandering around Centennial Plaza, and got the sniffles a few days later. The Montreal Canadiens are no good at Christmas presents.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Why I love the World Juniors

I liked international hockey before I liked the NHL. Sort of. The whole Canada beating USA for the gold medal at Salt Lake thing kind of helped. But it didn't convince me to start watching hockey all the time. I would have to take a few more steps to get there. One of those steps was the World Juniors.

Five years ago today I watched the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship for the first time ever. Or, at least, the first time I remember. There were a few earlier instances in which I wondered why anyone would want to play so much hockey right after Christmas and waste away their whole winter vacation. It's Christmas, people. (I still sort of feel that way, because as much as I love watching the World Juniors, I feel a little bad for the players. You know these guys have at least twenty more holiday seasons where they might not get to relax for a few days and spend time with a family they almost never see.)

Anyway. Cut to late December 2005. Everyone but me has a fever and the only prescription is more Crosby. My older siblings kept ribbing me because he was my age and very good at hockey and on pace to be very, very rich someday. I didn't care. I saw no point in fawning over some horse-faced, overrated jock when there had been so many Rory Gilmore boyfriends who were so much more perfect? Plus, I had already claimed Carey Price as an alternative (sight unseen, and that worked out pretty well for me).

It turns out that watching guys my age playing hockey would be what got me just a little bit interested in the sport. No, not to find a hockey boyfriend. Okay, maybe just a little, but mostly I liked being able to relate to the players I was watching. I still do.

I don't remember much of what actually happened during the tournament, but I remember watching the games and I remember Canada winning. And really, when you think about it, what else matters? The tournament ended and I was richer: I remembered a handful of players from that team when I started watching NHL hockey. I'm happy every time Justin Pogge plays an NHL game. Every time I realize I'm watching a player who played for the 2006 squad, I smile a little. It was pretty cool to have three of the team's players briefly reunited on the Habs' roster this season. I even found my first hockey boyfriend (then-unseen Carey Price notwithstanding) on that team. Sasha Pokulok didn't skyrocket to NHL fame like a couple of his teammates, but he belonged to the Washington Capitals for a while and that's pretty cool. I look him up from time to time to see his stats. He's currently playing in Germany, after bouncing around a few teams I'd never heard of last season. He might be far away right now, but he's originally from Vaudreuil so maybe at some point, if I'm ever in the West Island during the offseason I might see him somewhere and tell him that five years ago, before I even liked hockey, I watched him play.

I'd like to say that I was immediately hooked on hockey after that, but it didn't happen that fast. Still, I can't believe it's already been five years since that WJHC, and how many of these players keep coming back to me. (There have been lots of random exclamations during my research for this post, most of them beginning or ending with "OF COURSE", as if I should have known that there was a subliminal reason why I like a certain city, player, or team.)

I liked cheering for Canada's world junior team in 2006. That hasn't changed, and I don't think it ever will.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Canadiens: The Series

So I finally got to see the infamous Bell TV series about the Habs, thanks to TSN picking up "Your Canadiens." It was... special. You can read my review of the first episode over at All Habs. Long story short: it felt really good to be able to rip on a poorly produced TV show and watch 30 minutes of my favourite Hab at the same time.

Basically, what happens is Anne-Marie Withenshaw spends a few banal hours of "everyday life" with each player on the team, in front of cameras. But you know what would be more fun? The opposite. That's right, I'm pitching a series where the Habs spend a few banal hours in my everyday life.

well, that's an awkward screencap if I've ever seen one
Hal Gill finds out what my job is, thus learning one of the universe's biggest secrets:
- Gill waits for me outside my office building and checks his BlackBerry!
- Profile about my professional accomplishments: This one time, I found a really serious subtitle problem and I wasn't even supposed to be looking for it, but I totally saved the day!
- I show him my workstation and he remarks that the air conditioning is on too high!
- It's free bagel day at the office so we split a bagel while I list all the coffeeshops within a five-block radius!
- Hal thinks my job is cool until I tell him about all the crappy movies I've watched multiple times in multiple languages! We sit at a computer for three hours wearing headphones!
- We get lunch at the salad place in my office building and he asks me if I have a crush on the hot (but sorta crazy) guy in my office!
- Awkward abrupt ending after lunch!

This is actually footage from his audition tape. He's wanted to host the show for two years
Jaroslav Spacek lives a day in the life when I'm not at my on-call weekday job:
- We watch SportsCenter!
- Profile of my blogging accomplishments: I co-founded Hab It Her Way! I write for All Habs! Sometimes I talk on the radio! One time I got plagiarized, and another time I got linked by Puck Daddy!
- He helps me write a draft of this week's Plus/Minus!
- We eat some cookies!
- Awkward "will you drive or will I drive" conversation, ending in Spacek driving because I don't have a car!
- We go to the nail salon! Spacek is afraid of getting a manicure and I tell him to tough it out! He chooses the colour of my nail polish!
- We part ways and he thanks me in both English and Czech, even though I don't speak Czech!

Yeah, I bet a ton of people would watch this show.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Plus/Minus is not on a road trip

...but it did move to Monday this week due to an 8 p.m. Sunday game. I could be in a better mood so let's get right to it, because there are tons of Pluses to cheer me up.

+ Chris Pronger is hurt! Huzzah!
+ This is almost a plus for both PK Subban and Mike Cammalleri, who on Wednesday and Thursday respectively had two-thirds of a Gordie Howe hat trick. I have two things to say about that. The first is that the first-ever recorded Gordie Howe hat trick (before it had a name) took place on December 26th, 1917, so you can tell people that on Sunday, and you'll sound so smart because you know the anniversary of something that happened in the NHL's first year. The second is that I have yet to see a complete Gordie Howe hat trick. That needs to change.
+ Max Pacioretty made me smile. He got called up at just the right time, but a lot of people were asking a lot of questions, and most of them still haven't forgiven him for (apparently) demanding top-six minutes (if that's what you think he did). I think a lot of the talking has stopped.
+ Dustin Boyd is going through some kind of AHL renaissance. Four goals in what, three games?
+ The commercial where a little boy gets an Ovechkin jersey for Christmas gets me every time. It's so damn cute. And I don't usually get all googly over commercials. Here's a slightly longer version of the same video:

+ LA Kings goalie Jonathan Quick posted an incredible 51-save shutout against the Detroit Red Wings. And yes, Detroit was playing well. He just didn't let any pucks in.
+ Vancouver's Green Men were at it again, in full force against the Maple Leafs on Saturday. First they hurled a giant box's worth of Eggos at the penalty box, and then they showed Mike Komisarek that he was on Santa's naughty list along with the rest of his teammates.

In bad taste, apparently
- Everyone's new enemy seems to be late-period goals. Maybe the Habs should hire someone to stand at the end of the bench and whisper "Don't let them score a goal!" to the players hitting the ice for the last two minutes of a period.
- Can someone explain to me why the Montreal Canadiens aren't able to put a puck in an open net? It's an open net! They're the Montreal Canadiens!
- Those of you who are worried about PK Subban's performance seem to be blowing the situation a little out of proportion. We're talking "Kanye West stole Taylor Swift's microphone" kind of horrified. (Yes, I made a year-old pop culture reference that didn't even make any sense. Deal with it.)
- So let me get this straight: the Avalanche beat the Habs yesterday, and RDS didn't even bother showing Matt Duchene do the bangity-bang dance? That's like losing twice.

I can't think of a better way to end this post than to wish my favourite Canadien a happy birthday: Blow out those candles, Andrei Markov. I'd say "get well soon" but I want him to take as much time to recover as he needs to, and then some.

How to promote a Winter Classic

Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of The Price Is Right. (I'm not even kidding, I make fun of the people who don't understand the games, and I freak out when someone wins a car.) I'm just not sure that a dull, pretaped segment on a daytime game show is the best way to get people to watch the Winter Classic if they aren't already hockey fans.

Last year, watching Marc Savard and Scott Hartnell was somewhat painful, so my expectations were pretty low for this year. I was right. Jeremy Roenick injected a bit of life into the showcase presentation due to the fact that he isn't as dull as the average hockey player. (And some people complain about players with too mcuh personality. Go figure.) Alexander Ovechkin looked a little bored reading off the cue cards, and Sidney Crosby looked more uncomfortable than Brian Gionta did that time he had to speak French. Maybe, if we're trying to bring in a new audience for NHL hockey, we shouldn't be exposing the fact that the league's biggest star isn't good at talking on camera. (You know who is, though? Jonathan Toews. I'm just saying.)

They don't seem to have that problem on HBO's 24/7, which I'm enjoying very much. So I'm not going to complain about the way this game is promoted on cable. Network TV, however, is a whole other story.

First of all, if you want to promote The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, January 1st on NBC!!! why are you on CBS? Why aren't you taking advantage of the fact that NBC viewers already know what Heinz Field looks like?
Maybe you've heard of it... highest-rated show for the 15th consecutive Sunday
(despite the worst opening theme ever)
I know NBC wouldn't go the whole nine and make Ovechkin guest-star as a Russian henchman on Chuck, and that both teams couldn't team up with The Lonely Island for a video called "I'm On A Boat (Going To Heinz Field)", but a really short spot (or a series of commercials) on Sunday Night Football would do the trick. Look, I even wrote a poorly formatted script and everything!

BEN ROETHLISBERGER and a few of his PITTSBURGH STEELERS teammates are on the sidelines during practice, drinking from their water bottles or tossing balls around between drills.

Who are those guys? Hockey players?

The entire WASHINGTON CAPITALS team, wearing their jerseys, walk on to the field in slow motion.

Hey, guys.

We're going to be playing here in a few weeks.
Can you show us around?

Sure. Hey, aren't you Brooks Laich?

Yeah. Nice to meet you.

I heard you helped out some lady fans 
who had car trouble last spring.

Yeah, it was dark out and these two women 
wearing Caps jerseys had a flat tire. 
I changed it for them.

...and then what did you do?

I drove away.

That's it?


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Time for a snowball fight: Habs v Avs

I used to know almost nothing about the Colorado Avalanche. (It fit well with my general theme of not knowing much about hockey in general.) "They used to be the Nordiques!" and "Joe Sakic!" will only take a girl so far. I have since learned a few things, which is helpful since Sakic retired, so I'm looking forward to this game. Here are some things that I've learned:

They're good. 
They're on a 5-game winning streak, during which they beat the Blackhawks twice. What? For real? Like, the Chicago Blackhawks?

Matt Duchene is cool.
2009's third overall draft pick is having a pretty good season so far, with 13 goals. That's two more than any Hab so far this season. (Not that I'm dissing anyone. I quite like being on a team that hasn't earned a top 5 draft pick lately.) Plus, he and teammate Paul Statsny have taken the "bangity bang" song from How I Met Your Mother and turned it into a postgame celebration. I want the NHL to allow this game to end in a tie, and have their postgame dance at one end of the ice, and PK and Carey triple low fiving on the other side.

They have Tomas Fleischmann now.
In case you forgot. He's Czech and he used to play for Washington, so we like him.

They also have Ryan O'Byrne now.
Remember, we gave him to them? And now they're good? Yeah. I know. I told you all he should either play or be traded, and "play him" is looking a little less crazy than it used to.
His stats are unbelievable now (this article describes his plus-13 ranking as "shiny" and I'm going to act like that's a Firefly reference). He gets tons of ice time. And, as a result, he likes Colorado so much that he's become a full-time mountain man.

Some people might think he's dissing Montreal, but really, he's just speaking the truth. If you don't think this city is tough to play in, then you need your head checked. Also you're missing the point of this video (which I found courtesy of Heather Engel): his beard. Look at that beard. It just makes him look bigger. He lives in the Rockies year-round now. I bet he spends all of his spare time chopping wood and fighting Sasquatch. Maybe he should be the subject of the next TV show I pitch: Ryan O'Byrne, Mountain Man. Look for special guest appearances by Wolverine and lots of flannel shirts.

Puck drops at 8. No word on whether all the players' sticks were whittled by Ryan O'Byrne in his spare time, or if it's composite as usual.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

No place like HIHW for the holidays

Some hockey-themed holiday reading, if you're not one of those people who gets into the Christmas spirit by listening to awful pop covers of Christmas standards. Or, heaven forbid, Christmas songs written by former Beatles:

Do you remember last year's HIHW Holiday Gift Guide? If you don't, here are Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

More on gifts: I broke down my most recent awful merchandise finds into Gifts I Don't Want and Gifts I Won't Give.

The Active Stick's Christmas list might just be better than my fake Christmas list. (More on that later.)

Habs Laughs has New Year's Resolutions for the Canadiens.

And, finally, I've got to admit that I just don't have what it takes to make a Puck Daddy-worthy Christmas card. So, I made, um, postcards.

This one's for Czechtacular.
You can send this one to the friend who loves more than oxygen
Habs haters might like to make a short joke out of this, but Gill and Gionta are my favourite sight gag and also I love them.
This is one of the only LA Kings pictures I have on my computer, I swear
This one is for your older sister. It's a proven fact that most big sisters love Christopher Higgins, no matter what team he plays for.
This one's for puckbunnies. (Even though I'm usually against them... it's Christmas.) It's also a reference to my Christmas list.
So... the fake Christmas list I've been alluding to? It started with my brother's promise that this year's Christmas present would be one for the ages. "You'll never guess," he keeps saying, "and you're going to freak out." I have no idea what it could be, so I wrote a list of the most improbable, but awesomest things I could think of. Here is that list.
Now go get ready for the holidays, spend your Christmas bonus on an outfit for your ugly sweater party, or bake some cookies or something!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Canadiens Road Trip Travel Guide

I'm happy that the Canadiens beat the Bruins and didn't lose 4 games in a row. Okay, "happy" doesn't quite cut it. Time to bust out the thesaurus. I'd say I'm either "delighted" or "jumping for joy." Now the Canadiens are preparing to leave town for two weeks and we'll all miss the comforts of the Bell Centre. I've come to expect a few things for this road trip, but I'm going to be a little naive and hope I don't see them.
No! Wait! Take me with you!
CG advertisements: Those stupid ads on the glass behind a goalie? They're ridiculous. I try not to look at them but they're right there, assaulting my eyes, trying to sell me something I generally have no use for. Isn't there another way for teams to make money? There are enough ads in the arena already. Leave the glass alone.

Consecutive losses: The Habs kind of spoiled us, waiting until December to lose 3 in a row. I had forgot what it feels like to be disappointed in your team. I didn't want to be reminded. So, no losing streaks. And while I'm on the subject...

Embarrassing losses: They're going to play, among others, the Islanders and the Panthers. The Canadiens are allowed to have heartbreaking losses against certain teams, but I don't know what I'll do if they lose to a team that's already stitching Sean Couturier's draft jersey.

Curse day doom and gloom: The Canadiens won on December 23rd of last year. They can very well do it again. They will not lose and if they do, they're not going to implode. Anyone who believes this probably shouldn't have put Carey Price on their All-Star ballot. Also, they're going to avenge Andrei Markov because they haven't seen the Hurricanes since a certain incident which I am not yet ready to discuss.

RDS shenanigans: I'll be happy when RDS posts holiday greetings from the Habs. I won't like it when they spend an irrational amount of time talking about a player on some other team just because he was born in Quebec. Yes, this means YOU, Philippe Dupuis, Bruno Gervais, and Mathieu Perreault. (There's probably no stopping a lovefest for Robidas, Lecavalier, or St. Louis, so no use in even trying, and I wouldn't mind some face time with poor Steve Bernier, who deserves better than being a Florida Panther.)

Fun in the sun: A second rule for RDS shouldn't need to remind us when they're in Florida. We see you, Pierre Houde, with a healthy bit of colour on your face and a light suit with no tie. We see you sweating a little, Benoit Brunet. We know that you're in Florida. You don't need to tell us about the weather or the beach, or laugh at us poor souls who are working - in icy Montreal - through the holidays. And please, someone keep Alain Crete away from the sun and the fake tanner. He was orange last year.

And, finally, it comes as no surprise that I should say:

Ice girls: Seriously, get out.

I know, I know, sometimes I ask for too much.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Plus/Minus is not in 3-D

Feel free to put your 3-D glasses on just for fun, though.
So there's no Habs game until they play the Flyers on Wednesday and all I've got to think about now are two consecutive losses. Which is also what my New York Jets have to be proud of this week. Someone please give me another sport and another team that won a game this week. The Oklahoma City Thunder, which might be my NBA team if NBA Network Canada would stop showing me the same two teams over and over, won earlier today.

+ Okay, that game against the Sens was good stuff. And Carey Price was great this week. So great, in fact, that Jimmy Howard was extra motivated to be better. (Off topic: Does anyone else call Jimmy Howard "Opie"?)
+ 2 for the Bulldogs: They destroyed the Marlies today on national television, and leading scorer Max Pacioretty was called up again shortly after the game ended. Good news all around!
+ I don't have any secondhand stories for you guys since the nurses I know had very limited Hab encounters, but the patients at the Childrens were very happy after the Canadiens' holiday visit. (And yes, the hospital staff was quite pleased as well. But no, I didn't get the chance to bribe a certain unit coordinator into getting me some signed postcards.)
+ Waffles.
+ Off Topic Football Plus: After the end of tonight's game, Dallas Cowboy Tashard Choice asked Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick to sign his gloves. Anyone out there can say that they respect another player in their league, but it's an entirely different thing to show your admiration.

- I sort of liked it when the Canadiens would bounce back from a loss and win the next game. It was much better than losing to the Leafs.
- Sidenote: Have I talked about how nervous I get when the Canadiens pull their goalie? If I haven't, then this week did all the explaining for me.
- I cannot take any more of this ridiculous PK Subban vs Yannick Weber "rivalry" people are trying to create. It had better be over now. It's stupid, it's useless, it's divisive, and it's completely imaginary. What's so bad about having two young defencemen who need a bit more NHL experience to reach their full potential?
- Yes, he's got 26 goals. Yes, there are only 2 weeks left until the Winter Classic. But in all seriousness, the mainstream media has GOT to tone down its man-crush on Sidney Crosby. It's even worse than usual, which I didn't think was possible. Am I going to have to start judging people by how Crosby-crazy they are?

We've got three days to get over these losses and prepare for back-to-back enemy games. That should be enough time. If it's not, I'll just displace my rage and direct it at all the Crosby-crazies. Or Mike Richards.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Your anger is delicious!

I shouldn't have changed the channel when primetime started. NBC Thursdays are fantastic but last night's Leafs game delivered the best laughs of the night.
Somebody at the Air Canada Center threw waffles on the ice.

On the ice.
It's so hilariously absurd that I'm not reading any further about it, just to keep it a funny little mystery: Who threw the waffles? What was their motive? Why waffles, of all things? Why wouldn't they just eat the waffles? Do they have an intolerance to gluten? Where did the waffles come from? And can we refer to these people as the LuftWaffle?

Then I started thinking of what other tasty snacks would make great projectiles around the NHL.

Montreal: It has to be Jos Louis and May Wests. No province eats more processed snack cakes than Quebec. Plus they kind of look like pucks.
Detroit: OK, we give you permission to throw Jos Louis on the ice too, since you went so far as to name your arena after them. Otherwise, live up to your team's delicious name and throw chicken wings. Just please, no calamari.
Los Angeles: Churros.
Anaheim: Overpriced churros from Disneyland. (Also acceptable: overpriced churros from Disney's California Adventure.)
Boston: Teddy Grahams. Or Boston cream donuts, since I'm pretty sure Tim Thomas runs on Dunkin.
Vancouver: Do they still make Doublemint gum?

Atlanta: Fuzzy Peaches. (Also acceptable: peach cobbler, but that's not very throwable and all the old Georgia grannies would cry if you didn't eat their peach cobbler.)

Long Island: In keeping with my fancy Great Gatsbyized view of Long Island, I've decided that Islanders fans should throw chocolate Easter eggs and shout "East Egg!" or "West Egg!" depending on which arm is used to throw.
Philadelphia: Cheesecake.
Washington: This cost $3 when I bought it in the States, so if Caps fans want to throw a whole bunch of them they need to be prepared to drop some coin. But there probably isn't anything better than this:
Ladies and gentlemen, the Obama chocolate bar
Toronto: If ever you tire of waffles, you should just throw whatever it is that Habs fans threw on the Bell Centre ice last season.

Or we could get a little more specific.
What to do if a particularly hated player comes to town and you want to give him special treatment? Depends on who it is...
Chris Pronger: Elbow macaroni.
Eric Staal: Jordan almonds.
Guillaume Latendresse: Pogos and Chicken McNuggets.
Mike Richards: Whatever PK Subban's favourite food is.
Sean Avery: Last week's leftovers.
Mike Komisarek: Graham crackers, ice cream cones, or anything that breaks every time it hits the ice.
Matt Cooke: Whatever the hell you want. Go crazy.

In all seriousness, though, food is for eating. Hockey fans, food does not belong on the ice. It goes in your belly.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Plus/Minus: on a roll

Lots of surprises, lots of goals, and lots of wardrobe problems this week when I had to avoid wearing Rider green and Sharks teal, even though half of what I own is one of those colours. But, you know, mostly actual hockey stuff.

they see me rollin'...
+ When your teammate is injured, you're supposed to help him in any way you can. Tomas Plekanec did just that for his friend Andrei Kostitsyn. It was super weird, but if rolling your teammate is the best way to move him, then so be it.
+ Tom Pyatt. Scored. A goal.
+ Carey Price almost scored a goal.
+ I already lamented the lack of mustaches post-Movember and got some love for my breakdown of Carey Price's mustache. But one thing I didn't get to talk about in my now-famous mustaches post is the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Ben Maxwell, poet laureate.
+ Usually I don't like it when fans boo and act like jerks, but I made an exception on Thursday for what I like to call "Jackass Homecoming." A plus to the Ottawa Senators fans, whose booing of not-so-prodigal son Dany Heatley was the loudest thing I've ever heard during a Sens game. Or in Ottawa, period. Heck, they were louder than the fans who "welcomed" LeBron James back to Cleveland. An additional plus goes to this guy:
This is what it's like when worlds collide.
If I were ESPN, I'd run a one-hour special about LeBron James hater merchandise.

Please don't go anywhere
- Why is Josh Gorges taking therapy days and suddenly appearing to be slightly less than the indestructible iron man we all know he is? I feel like every time a player starts by taking multiple mysterious therapy days, he's about two weeks from sending everything to hell with some awful injury. Please, Josh, say it ain't so. I just wouldn't be able to take the heartache.
- I already told Lars Eller to stop taking penalties, didn't I? Yes. Yes, I did. Last week.
- I'm glad the Habs recovered from that Oilers loss, because they can't let that happen again. The Oilers are better than they have been in the last couple seasons, thus increasing the likelihood that they can win against the Canadiens and I just can't handle another 7-1 trampling on the road. We stay up late to watch those games, you know. We could be watching Letterman!
- Nope, not a fan of the new Winter Classic commercial. It has no substance, no real excitement, and the absolutely ridiculous level of love that NHL marketing has for "Crosby vs. Ovechkin" is just... it's getting old. This commercial makes it look like no one else will be doing anything at the Winter Classic. There are two teams in this game, not two players. If I didn't know anything about hockey and saw the commercial, I probably wouldn't even remember which teams were playing. If all you're using to sell something is two sports stars, a football field, and some snow, you could have a great commercial:

- And finally, the biggest minus of all. Dear person who broke into Pat Burns' widow's car and stole everything: you're going to hell, so it doesn't really matter what I say, but just know that you might be one of the worst people on Earth and if ever you get caught, a lot of people will cause you serious injury. You're probably hoping you never get caught. I'm hoping you get what you deserve.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this coming week will be more or less like the last.
But probably with more PK Subban gossip. Make it stop, someone!

Joe Thornton Is Canada

Sometimes, you'll learn something so obvious that you had no idea why it took you so long to realize it. I had one of those revelations during the Habs-Sharks game. Considering how tired I was from an early work day, I'm surprised I could even fathom it. But Czechtacular's old friend Bhavna only had to say one thing:
"Joe Thornton is Canada."
I almost immediately understood. It makes perfect sense. I couldn't talk about anything else for the rest of the period (sorry, Habs). The more you think about what makes Joe Thornton great, the more you realize that he possesses all the qualities that make Canada great.

Obviously, the whole hockey thing.
He's won a bunch of stuff (Stanley Cup forthcoming, but not until the Habs win another one, please). Joe Thornton is hockey, and hockey is Canada.

Jumbo Joe is huge.
My research tells me he's 6'4" but he looks at least two feet taller than that. Like Canada, Joe Thornton has coasts. I tried to find out whether he spans multiple time zones but didn't find any proof.

He has a beard.
...This one made a little more sense when I first came up with it, tired from work and trying to concentrate on the game. It still makes sense, right? Right?
Something about forests. It's like a forest.
Nature's beard!
Or it makes him look even more like a lumberjack than he already does. Which just brings me back to forests.

He makes his living in the States.
Many of the best Canadians do. It's how we know they're really famous: they're paid in green money.

He's a pacifist badass.
Yes, it is possible to be a pacifist and a badass mo fo. That's what Canada is about. He'll hit hard or defend his teammates if he needs to, but he hasn't engaged in that much unnecessary violence lately.

pictured: not his actual brother.
He has lots of brothers.
Being Canadian is like being part of a huge family. I guess it's a byproduct of outsiders always telling us things like "You're from Montreal? I have a cousin who's getting her degree at a university near Toronto!" It's the thing that keeps us all connected whether we like it or not, like some sort of national DNA.

He knows a lot about beer.
I mean, I'm not 100% sure on this, but think about it. Wouldn't Joe Thornton know a lot about beer?

This picture had a watermark that said "Don't steal me"... I cropped it out.

He apologizes a lot. And he laughs a lot.
It's what we do best as Canadians. Sorry, it's true.

He can make us laugh.
As I just said, laughter is very Canadian. Joe loves to crack jokes and has made a running gag out of his apparent refusal to wear a shirt in postgame interviews.

Big, badass, funny, laid-back... Honestly, you guys, Joe Thornton IS Canada. He just is.
Gratuitous reminder that we won a gold medal.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A goodbye to the NHL's Movember mustaches

I should probably start this blog post by admitting that mustaches make me laugh. There, I said it. Movember, the initiative for men to grow mustaches and collect pledges for prostate cancer research, obviously gave me a few giggles as I watched my hockey.

Now, unfortunately, December has come and the mustaches are gone, and we're back to looking at everyone's regular clean-shaven faces. In some cases, that's a good thing... isn't it?

Carey Price's mustache was pretty classic in style. Lots of guys who did Movember decided to go a little crazy and grew long Hulk Hogan mustaches instead of going legit with a Tom Selleck or a Burt Reynolds or an Inigo Montoya. There's a reason why they're classics, boys. Carey's expression in the picture above sums up how I feel about it: confused. I can't decide if I like it or not. Some days I think it looks ridiculous. Other times, like when my mom said it made him look like Clark Gable, I kinda dug it. Also, if you're superstitious, the sheer quality of Carey's goaltending during Movember kind of speaks for itself.
Should the mustache make a comeback? I was a little disappointed to see it go, but mostly for entertainment purposes. Carey has said it'll be back next Movember, and I'm okay with that. He can post shutouts whether he's got a mustache or not.

Josh Gorges' mustache made its first appearance two seasons ago, and I think I was one of the only people who liked it back then. I had missed a couple of games and was warned about it. It wasn't as scary as everyone made it sound. My theory for this spontaneous mustache growth was that Josh had seen Watchmen a few weeks earlier, looked at The Comedian's mustache and thought, "I can pull off one of those." I thought it didn't look so bad, and I liked it even more when ran an article on it, wherein star writer Manny Almela used a whole bunch of synonyms for "mustache." (My favourite? "Soup strainer.") This time around, the 'stache looked alright, but Josh's decision to shave his head to a Pierre McGuire kind of smoothness was misguided.
Should it come back? Sure, why not, as long as it's not paired with bowling ball head.

Hal Gill's mustache should be in textbooks. THIS is how you grow a long mustache, gentlemen. Step 1: Be really, really tall. Step 2: Grow the 'stache. At the beginning of the month my friend Cathie saw the beginnings of a horseshoe mustache (I looked that up, we thought it was a Fu Manchu) and said it would suit him, and I disagreed with her completely. But I should've trusted Cathie, as she's right more often than I am. Gill is pulling off this 'stache. I'm almost sad to see it go.
Should it come back? I wouldn't mind if it did. The unfortunate departure of Paul Mara left the Habs with a hole to fill in the "awesome facial hair" department.

Dustin Boyd's mustache might be the worst thing I've seen all year. (Including those five minutes I saw of $#!^ My Dad Says.) Maybe Boyd did it just to prove he can grow one, since it looks like it took a while to grow in. I wouldn't know for sure, since I've barely seen Boyd all month. But I can barely look at it.
Should it come back? NO. Kill it! Kill it! Oh, the humanity! ...Is it safe to look now?
(This picture, by the way, came courtesy of our friend Amanda, who met Boyd and his mustache at the Habs' blood drive on Monday but didn't run away screaming.)

David Arsenault's mustache, which gave him the temporary privilege of not looking like one of Santa's elves for once. It almost made him look like an old-school hockey sportscaster... if they had NHL hockey in Mexico. It might have been the furriest 'stache I saw during all of Movember. It looked like he stole the eyebrow from that unibrowed baby on The Simpsons and stuck it to his upper lip. Laughter is good for the soul, and David Arsenault made me laugh everytime I watched Hockey 360 before a Habs game. See? Movember is good for women's health too!
Should it come back? ...My common sense tells me no. My sense of humour tells me yes.

To take things out of Montreal for a second... I saw this hilarious photo of some Anaheim Ducks players and their mustaches, and thought I'd spotlight a couple of former Habs. I'm only linking to the photo because Ryan Getzlaf's mustache sends me into uncontrollable fits of laughter.

Kyle Chipchura's mustache is just funny. No other way to describe it. Slightly unflattering, but it doesn't hurt your eyes as much as the Boyd-stache. However, unlike every other mustache in this post, it doesn't make him look older. I'm not sure why, and I find this quite confusing, because you wouldn't think that a Magnum PI mustache would be the thing to make Chipchura actually look like he's in his 20's.
Should it come back? No. It may be the only thing I've seen that doesn't make Chippy look like he should be referred to as "sir", but he shouldn't have a mustache.

Saku Koivu's mustache is great, actually. I can't remember seeing Saku with a mustache like this (he usually had a bit of a beard going on) and I'm actually quite surprised by how good it looks on him. Look at that! It's the kind of mustache you'd see in old pictures of your relatives and NOT burst out laughing at. You'd see that mustache on that handsome face and know why your aunt married your uncle. The only weird thing about all this is that I still can't believe Saku reached the age where he can pull off a mustache like this. What are the odds that he'll want to play forever like Mark Recchi, and sport this mustache for a while?
Should it come back? Yes. You know what else should come back? Saku. To Montreal. No offense, current Montreal Canadiens roster, it's just that Saku's like a really old friend and I haven't seen him in a while.

Until I saw the Koivu mustache I was just about ready to name this my favourite NHL 'stache of Movember:

Theo Peckham's mustache entertained me to no end. I don't even know how I watched enough Oilers games to help me come to this decision, but the young D-man can grow a mustache. It suits him, he trimmed it or whatever it is that men do to maintain mustaches, and he didn't go too crazy (which would have been a bad idea for someone who's on TV often). Dustin Boyd is probably jealous that a guy younger than him can grow a better mustache.
Should it come back? If the Oilers keep up this recent hot streak and make the playoffs, Peckham should grow this instead of a beard.

Movember was fun while it lasted. Thanks for the laughs, gentlemen, and congratulations on all the money you raised. Final figures aren't available yet but with 120,000 Movember participants in Canada alone, I'm guessing that it was a pretty good month. My cousin Joe raised over $500 with his mustache!
It's really a shame that my idea - a winter fundraiser for women's cancers called Leguary - probably wouldn't be as much fun to look at.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

There's no room for nice

Yes, your resident Czech-loving blogger is alive, but probably not for long.

Two days ago I mistakenly believed I had walked into an ideal win/win situation. My friend the Sens' fan and I have yearly trips to Scotiabank Place and in his entire history even before this he has failed to witness a win by his team. After I bought last year's tickets online I started getting promotions in my inbox, and usually disregarded them except for the one that I couldn't refuse, much less ignore.

Guilty pleasure for me, last place team for him. Topped off by wallet-friendly promo codes because I'm such a special customer and all. Sounds perfect, y/y?

(The other "anticipated match-up" was against the San Jose Sharks, but fortunately for Dany Heatley's ears, Thursdays didn't work for either of us.)

My purchase looked better over the weekend as the Oilers had lost all but three in November and fell by a score of 4-3 to those same Sharks on Saturday night. Despite their shortfalls, however, Edmonton takes everything minute-by-minute and know very well what's expected of them, which they do try to surpass game in and game out.

Monday was an example of that. The Sens got on the board first, much to the delight of my friend, but after failed Ottawa powerplay opportunities and a lot of back-and-forth including breakaway stoppages on both ends, Tom Gilbert (of all people) tied the game with the man advantage late in the second period, and Andrew Cogliano and Gilbert Brule teamed up in the third to give Edmonton a 3-1 lead, topped off by Taylor Hall's first NHL empty-netter with 1:55 to go.

I was treated to death metal on the two-hour ride back home, so you can guess what kind of mood my friend was in.

Dear Habs: don't make the same mistake as me. Don't sit back and be nice, because the Oilers can and will walk all over you if you're not looking. Take advantage of any and all opportunities that present themselves, because you can very well end up on the wrong side of the coin, just like the Sens did. It's all too easy to look at where you are in the standings, but it's even easier to play like the opposite of what they state in print. (see: Florida Panthers.)

(I'm uncomfortable with briefs)
The last two tĂȘte-a-tĂȘtes between the two teams have been decided by one goal. Both teams are coming off wins. Goalies have been red-hot for both teams, which is significant for the Oilers who traveled to Montreal with three.

The Who
Brian Gionta may be Captain Mini but his presence in the win over Buffalo was huge. Rookies Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle are both up on the leaderboard in rookie scoring, the former with 5 points in his last 6 games. Ales Hemsky is back in the lineup tonight after being out with one of those nagging LBI's.

I'll be at this one too. Pray I'm not some Oilers' good luck charm or something.