Monday, January 30, 2012

I didn't recognize Plus/Minus behind those Clark Kent glasses

I seem to have an awful lot to say, considering that the Canadiens only played one game this week.


+ Everything about that Red Wings game was fantastic. This isn't just a Plus, it's a Plus four thousand.
+ Carey Price was one of the best things about All-Star weekend, from his reaction to being drafted by a Bruin and a Leaf to his silliness during the skills competition.
+ To the inevitable jokes happening in the Florida Panthers' locker room this week, after poor Brian Campbell's accidental indecent exposure became the talk of the Internet.
+ I didn't want to, but I'll admit it: Scott Hartnell is a mensch and a joy to watch in the All-Star Game.
+ A toast to the NHL's apparent newest player rivalry, Patrick Kane vs. Jordan Eberle - look at the angry stare on Kane's face here:

+ I have made my share of LeBron James jokes in the last year or so, but there can be no jokes when it comes to moves like these:

+ Congratulations to Melissa McCarthy (Sookie!) on getting an Oscar nomination for her fearless, hysterical performance in Bridesmaids.


- Poor players get named to the All-Star Game, then are given free hats but the hats are fug. Most of us know that Steven Stamkos plays for the Lightning. There was no need to give him a hat that says TAMPABAYLIGHTNING on it in letters so large that you can only see half the team name at a time.
- To everyone who tried to make a news story out of Carey Price not shaking Zdeno Chara's hand: concentrate on more important things, like the possibility of a Patrick Kane-Jordan Eberle rivalry.
- If I understood the story correctly, the doctors treating Sidney Crosby misdiagnosed him, and this is the first we hear of him having fractured vertebrae. If that's the case, then the doctors who treat Penguins players have got to be some of the most inept people on Earth.

- I'm sorry, but as much as I may love The Office, I'm not jazzed about this announcement of a Dwight Schrute spin-off. No. Let The Office end the way it needs to end, and then leave it be, unless this new show is either all about Cousin Mose. Or, if it is a Dwight spin-off, it should be some ridiculously nerdy high-concept series starring Dwight and his BBC counterpart Gareth.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to decide whether I'm Team Kane or Team Eberle.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Challenges I Missed During the All-Star Skills Competition

Best chirp

Ice sculpture challenge

Hardest Shot, with bartender Patrick Kane

Worst hair

Teddy bear toss during the skills relay

Political debate against Tim Thomas

Pin the tail on the Chara

Costume contest

Who can watch Nyan Cat the longest?

On-ice roller derby

Real-life game of "Daniel or Henrik"

Spelling bee

Goalie fights


But instead I had to settle for Pavel Datsyuk showing me why he's one of the greatest players in the game.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Our 2012 All-Star Draft

You may remember that last year, the Hab It Her Way girls got together and drafted their own All-Star teams, with all the stress of not knowing who to pick. (Parts One and Two, if you're interested.)

Czechtacular and I are giving it another go. This year, we decided to change things up a little bit. We set some ground rules:

  • Starting lineups only: 3 forwards, 2 defencemen, 1 goalie.
  • No players that were named to the actual All-Star Game.
  • And, since we are Habs fans, there has to be at least one short guy on the team.
  • We will be drafting one coach each - but he'll be coaching the other person's team.
And here we go:

Team Czechtacular's first pick...
Radim Vrbata, Phoenix Coyotes. Because he has 23 goals, which is fifth-best in the league, and his real All-Star invitation must've gotten lost in the mail but that's okay because mine is prettier.
Kudos to anyone who got the Count of Monte Cristo reference, which I doubt is anybody. But see? Pretty.

Team Rookie's first pick...
Saku Koivu, Anaheim Ducks. Big surprise there, eh? I was hoping he'd be named an All-Star so that I could go to Ottawa and see him again, and not cry.

Team Czechtacular's second pick...
Ilya Bryzgalov, Philadelphia Flyers. Because he's already used to letting a ton of goals in during regular games for the Flyers and having choice quotes about it after the game. But don't worry, on my team he'll definitely have a mic on for the whole experience just in case he wants to inform us more about blonde-girl huskies and/or solar systems.

Team Rookie's second pick...
Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary Flames. Because Czechtacular took Bryz away from me, and that is humangas big not cool. Kipper is always great to watch, and I don't get to see him play often enough.

Team Czechtacular's third pick...
Matthew Lombardi, Toronto Maple Leafs. I know, I know. But I waited a whole season to have him back from that concussion and he's mainly here for my version of the Skills' Competition in which he'd zoom away with the Fastest Skater Award anyway, sooooo.

Team Rookie's third pick...
Mason Raymond, Vancouver Canucks. You want fast? Raymond is fast. You're losing that Fastest Skater competition, Team Czechtacular. Sorry. And my picking Raymond now is just a coincidence, because it's a known fact that I put him on my All-Star ballot every year.

Team Czechtacular's fourth pick...
A Magically Healed and Ready for Action Dmitry Kulikov, Florida Panthers. There's nothing in the rules about not being able to stage our version of the All-Star Game in eight weeks, is there? Because like a lot of the Panthers this season, he's been flying under the radar with 24 points, tenth-most in the league among defensemen. Meanwhile, his D partner Brian Campbell gets to be a real All-Star as he spends his break and the next two months or so recovering from knee surgery. I cry foul.

Team Rookie's fourth pick...
Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks. He's the kind of guy you'd want on your All-Star team, representing your league. He'd probably be good for a point or two, and his stats this season are just as good as actual All-Star Ryan Suter's.

Team Czechtacular's fifth pick...
Ladislav Smid, Edmonton Oilers. In my All-Star Game there are hits and blocked shots. Smid is among the league leaders in both categories. And if you're a regular watcher of Oil Change you'll know why he's the other logical choice to be mic'ed up for the weekend.

Team Rookie's fifth pick...
Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers. I never, ever thought I'd pick a Flyer, but I still sort of half-think of Simmonds as an L.A. King. He'd bring some grit and energy to the team, and if you watched 24/7 you'd know that he seems like a nice enough guy. He's maybe not as quotable as, say, Bryzgalov, but he'd get along well with his teammates and have fun with fans.

Team Czechtacular's sixth pick...
David Desharnais, Montreal Canadiens. The little assist-machine (not too shabby at scoring goals against the Wings, either) that could, after getting a rough ride by many of the Habs' faithful for much of this season he's quietly emerging as a top-tier producer, so he's going to be my Tricolore representative this year.

Team Rookie's sixth pick...
Josh Gorges, Montreal Canadiens. Okay, so I coincidentally saved my Hab for last, too. His offensive skill will be an asset in the ASG. He'd have a great time. And, just in case this game goes to overtime and I need someone to score a game-winning goal, he's got it covered.

And now, for the coaches. How do you pick a coach for someone else's team, to play against you?

Czechtacular picks Team Rookie's coach...
Joel Quenneville, Chicago Blackhawks. Because moustache.

Rookie picks Team Czechtacular's coach...
Kirk Muller, Carolina Hurricanes. He might not have a moustache, but how could I not pick Kirk?

And that's our draft, ladies and gentlemen. No awkward cuts to the social media room, no confetti, no free cars. (Offers are welcome for car sponsorships for next year's draft.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Plus/Minus: Guys... Where are we?

I went on a short vacation last week. I spent five days in Florida, where seventeen degrees Celsius is considered unseasonably cold for January, two 23-ounce cans of Four Loko* will set you back a whopping five dollars, and people set up memorials (complete with paper signs) for a historic tree that burned down in a forest fire. I came back to a city where fans want their hockey team to lose and then are upset that they do, and where winter happens every year but drivers seem to forget that it exists. I'm still not sure which place is weirder. (Probably Florida, because they have lots of gators and gun stores.)


+ Somehow, the Habs' open practice is always a bright spot in the season, regardless of who's there or how well the team is doing.
+ Saku Koivu scored a hat trick!
+ Former Hamilton Bulldog Ryan Russell scored his first NHL goal as a Columbus Blue Jacket. Congratulations?
+ My favourite thing about sports is sportsmanship. So it made me happy when Ray Lewis and Arian Foster signed and swapped their jerseys after a playoff game last week.
+ Rene Bourque scored his first goal as a Hab! Welcome to the jungle.
+ 30 Rock is back!
+ My interest in New Girl was starting to wane before the holiday hiatus, but last week's episode was great. I hope Lizzy Caplan's character sticks around for the rest of the season.
+ I may not agree with Tim Thomas' decision to skip his White House visit (after all, wouldn't a hard-working, beer-drinking proletarian goalie want to high-five Barack Obama and maybe sing a few bars?) but I like the way he handled it - so far, as discreetly as he could while still making the statement he wanted to make.

No more.
- Okay but why would you put Scott Gomez in a shootout?
- The way the Cammalleri trade went down is an abomination. Yeah, I said it. Habs fans don't need any more drama, and we definitely don't like being the laughingstock of the NHL.
- I was supposed to go to the Habs-Capitals game last Wednesday. Considering that the Habs got shut out, and deserved to, I guess I'm not too beat up about missing it.
- Rest in peace, Joe Paterno. He did something wrong (which I will not defend), but he was also a successful coach whose players respected him and whose family will miss him, and for those reasons I absolutely will not be one of those heinous people who thinks it's funny that he died.

I don't know where my team is going, and I'm not sure I understand where they've been so far this season, but there's an Original Six matchup this week, and that's all that matters.

And, just because I put a Lost reference in the title of this post and didn't follow it up with anything, here's a smattering of Lost-related musings:

  • Pierre Gauthier is the smoke monster. 
  • What lies behind the shadow of the statue? Probably another confusing trade. 
  • Kyle Wellwood ate too many Apollo bars.
  • Andrei and Sergei = Jacob and the Man in Black? Discuss.
  • Is Erik Cole like Montreal's Hurley?
  • Do you think Jorge Garcia has ever been to Hurley's on Crescent?
  • Half of "the numbers" are hanging from the rafters at the Bell Centre.
  • You all, everybody.

*Do not drink Four Loko.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Programming update

Plus/Minus will return next week.

Also, my theory that the Habs lose when I go out of town has evolved into a theory that Habs players get traded around the time I go out of town. (Hey, things have worked out OK for Matt D'Agostini and Maxim Lapierre, so I'm not too worried about Cammy.)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Remember when I wrote about telenovelas?

This post?

Los Canadienses would make a pretty great telenovela these days.
I can't even imagine all of the emoting going on in Boston right now. The losing! The interviews! The trades! The tension!
In case you need more drama, here's a bit of a real telenovela for you:

A Losing Mentality

There are lots of things I still don't understand about being a sports fan, even though I've been watching the Canadiens for long enough now. Here's one thing from that list, thanks to :

The team loses. Fans are ready to jump ship, trade away most of the roster, or tank for the rest of the season in an attempt to Fail for Nail. They'll do just about anything but cheer for a losing team, as if they forget that sometimes teams lose, and yes, sometimes they lose a lot.

Then a player uses the word "losing" in an interview and it's the end of the world. Fans are suddenly upset because Mike Cammalleri said the team doesn't have a winning mentality. As if he were criticizing his team, and not stating a fact. Instead of using this statement to reflect on the state of their team, most fans are flying off the handle, probably getting ready to burn their Cammalleri T-shirts or something. We, as fans, already know that this team isn't playing well. Cammalleri, as a member of the team, obviously knows, even better than we do. And maybe he has a better idea than we do of why the team isn't winning. Fans: you can't actively wish for a team to fail, and then whine when a player admits that his team isn't doing well.

Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to turn against our own players. After all, this is usually the team that we schedule our lives around. We either love them or hate them, and somehow there is no middle ground. Be happy when they win; be disappointed when they lose. But be a fan, no matter what. (Otherwise we'll start begging for you to be traded to some other fanbase. How does Pittsburgh sound?)

We'll do our part to support the team, and hopefully the team will do their part and work out whatever's plaguing them. It's the best that we can do, in order to help our team be the best.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Plus/Minus is smiling

This week, I learned that there are actual chains in football. I never knew those things were chains.
I also learned (for damn sure) that I believe in the Canadiens more than I believe in their fans. Did no one understand the "Rise Together" slogan?
In any case, it's been a great week for hockey. Unless you count that protest.


+ Alexei Emelin proves that he won't give up on this team as easily as some of the fans did (or almost did), by playing the day after he takes a puck to the face.
+ 2 Shane Doan scored his first hat trick (first. I know.) and Jarome Iginla got his 500th career goal. Their smiles say everything about their accomplishments. And about how much we all love them.

(via All Habs) This is where our province's priorities are.
- I'm really happy that the Habs have done so well, if only to silence those "loyal" fans who have been extremely vocal about jumping ship. You know, the ones who are usually vocal about which player's jersey they bought this month or how many stats they can rattle off? Some of them have been so venomous toward their team that I mistake them for Leafs fans. So, lucky for them, their team has won two games and all is right with the world and they won't lose all the money they bet in August on the Habs winning the Cup.
- The fact that people would have a protest because they're unhappy about seeing an anglophone with a job is just atrocious. I don't even want to talk about it.
- Prayers for Jack Jablonski, who was seriously injured during a high school hockey game this week but is thankfully already making great strides toward recovery. I love this sport but I hate how dangerous it can be.

- What, they couldn't put Kelly Clarkson in any sketches during SNL this week? Maybe people didn't notice, but Charles Barkley is not a comedian.

This week, I'm hoping to avoid any resurrection of the Price-Halak debate because enough already and nice to see you again, Jaro.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Plus/Minus shares a timeslot with Jimmy Fallon

It's midnight. Midnight Plus/Minus is what happens when your holidays are busy (read: lazy) and then there's a World Juniors game on.

“We started something here and we want to finish it here until the last goal.”
+ I'm incredibly happy to have Josh Gorges on this team. But you knew that already. I can't even tell you how happy it made me to find out that he's been renewed for another six seasons. (And a movie?) He may deserve to be on a Habs team better than the one we've seen lately, but if every player can turn into the one that Josh Gorges has been since he came to Montreal, this team will be unstoppable.

+ Some people might find it scandalous that I'm giving this a Plus, but former Bulldog (and occasional Hab) J.T. Wyman, who I happen to like very much, scored his first NHL goal for the Tampa Bay Lightning. I'm very proud of him, even though he scored against my team. (Maybe there was money on the board?) I was disappointed to see him leave the Bulldogs this summer (as you know) but I thought he'd be a good fit in Tampa if he ever got called up, and here's proof: a goal in only his third game with the big club.
+ What is it about Florida that makes Emelin extra badass?
+ I don't like the Flyers, I don't like the Flyers, I don't... But congratulations, Brayden Schenn, on your first NHL goal!
+ The second and third periods of the Winter Classic.
+ Tonight's World Junior game was the kind of game that proves exactly why I love Team Canada (and have, even since I before I was a hockey fan) and why I like watching Canada-Russia matchups so much. It was thrilling, high-scoring, and infuriating. I couldn't have asked for anything more from one game, and I'm not even disappointed that Canada lost because they came out for the most incredible third period any fan could imagine.

- Peter Laviolette messing with Steve Ott between periods of a Dallas-Philly game, then denying it and playing dumb after the game even though the whole thing was caught on camera. He knows that there's video evidence, right? (Typical Laviolette.)
- Krys Barch allegedly making a racially insensitive comment to P.K. Subban is a "he said, he said" scandal. (Or, a "he said, ref overheard" scandal, if you will.) We may never know exactly what was said and what led up to it, but if it's true, this kind of behaviour needs to stop.
- To anyone who didn't think that The Roots were adequate intermission entertainment for the Winter Classic.
- There's no reason for fans of one country to be hateful toward the players of another.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some sleeping to do before the first Habs game of 2012.