Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Longest STFU I've Ever Read

Terry Frei has a post up today which essentially tells "media" to shut their yaps about attendance issues in Denver.

UPDATE: The DP pulled the post but Google captured it.

It had me going "Oh, snap!" from start to finish and is required reading for Avalanche fans in my humble little opinion.

If only I knew who specifically that post was directed at...

Thanks to HockeyBuzz's Aaron Musick for noting this in his Twitter stream.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Tale of Two Series

I find the resemblance between the Washington-Montreal and San Jose-Colorado series to be uncanny. I thought on it a lot today and this post came into being. And I've got to warn you, it has some existential mumbo-jumbo at the end.

To start with, both series are matchups between the respective 1st and 8th seed from the East and West Conferences. That one is blindingly obvious, but it's only the beginning.

Both Washington and San Jose were labelled as big, banging teams with smoking offense and would nullify the speed of Montreal and Colorado thanks to their physical prowess and offensive skills.

Predictions for both series had the Colorado and Montreal as limping in and ripe for a sweep. There were a few predictions of a token win on the backs of an astounding goaltending performance from both teams, but that was as far out on the limb most predictors would go.

This was despite a "choker" label being attached to both San Jose and Washington One hanging a little heavier than the other, to be certain.

Washington and San Jose were 2/1 favorites in the betting world for game #1. If you wanted to win $100, you had to lay down $250. That's how certain the oddsmakers - and the hockey nation - felt of impending dominance.

In game 1, Montreal and Colorado shocked the world by not only beating their opponent but by looking like the better team. This was no fluke on the backs of goaltending, this was a legitimately earned win. It had many wondering if they shouldn't have went with the cinderella upset pick so they could look like geniuses.

In game 2, Washington and San Jose were treated to piss-poor goaltending by their designated #1 'tenders. It wasn't shocking, but it was another similarity.

Oh, and let's not forget the hometown-slanted officiating. In both series, the referees appear to be easily swayed by the hometown crowd who holler over any slight by their opponent. It appeared to wear the refs down as both Montreal and Colorado had ridiculous interference penalties assessed late in the game.

For Montreal, it was Hal Gill laying a solid check on Alexander Semin shortly after Semin had lost the puck. For Colorado, it was Adam Foote battling for position to get in front of the net. In Colorado's case, it led to the winning goal.

Oh, and did I mention that game 2 ended 6-5 in OT in both series?

I pondered on what this would mean and wasn't even sure where it was headed as I was writing. Then it hit me.

I've told the story of my time as a Canadiens fans before on this blog (I'll try and find a link later) and how it came to be that in my teenage years, I rebelled towards Colorado/Quebec to show my individuality around the age of 15.

If you were to cut the timeline of my life in half and overlay the two pieces, you would find my Colorado and Montreal affiliations are perfectly overlapping.

But what does that mean? In my current philosophy, it leads me to just one conclusion. The powers that be who are writing our stories have seen fit to write one which inspires me to write a story.

It's simple, it's poetic and it's confusing enough to sound true. Which is the nature of most new age hokum, isn't it?

But if the universe needs to use such a roundabout manner to get my creative juices flowing, I'm more than willing to accept it.

Especially if it leads to a Colorado series victory.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Avalanche Defeat Sharks 2-1, Take 1-0 Series Lead

When Chris Stewart took a penalty less than 30 seconds in, you could hear the hockey nation say "Oh, here we go...". It looked like the Avalanche weren't even going to get their wheels under them before being crushed by the Sharks.

But that penalty ended up being the turning point of the hockey game.

It forced the Avalanche to calm down and focus immediately on a single task - kill the penalty. There was no time for nerves or shaky passes. There was no need to bemoan getting locked in their own zone early because now it was going to happen. All that mattered next was how they responded.

They were able to weather the storm, Craig Anderson got some early action to get into it, and the Avs walked away with the 2-1 win. So much for the sweep, folks.

The vast majority of Avalanche players played their part and then some today. I'm going to single out a few of them that I really focused my eye on, but that's no slight on the rest of the team.

Kevin Porter - Particularly in the first period, I really enjoyed Porter's play. He was physical, defensive and showed a bit of offensive flair on breakouts. He was credited with four hits but I think he had that many in the first period alone. Besides, I call BS on the hit numbers as there's no way San Jose laid more checks than the Avs did tonight.

Kyle Cumiskey - Some people thought Cumiskey should be out in favor of Clark. They wanted Clark's shot blocking and feared Cumiskey's size would be exploited. Tonight, Cumiskey showed that Joe Sacco made the right choice. He was quick, physical and extremely solid defensively. This could be his breakout series.

Craig Anderson - Playoff virgin? It sure didn't look like it tonight. He was calm, cool and collected from start to finish. But please, stay in the net.

Matt Hendricks - Eight minutes of ice-time and five hits? That's what an energy guy has to do and Hendricks did it very well tonight.

Scott Hannan - The last playoffs Hannan was in with the Avs, I really felt he was soft. He turned that right around this game. He was very strong in front of the net and punished guys behind the net, including our old buddy, Jumbo Joe Thornton. He still has no idea what to do with the puck on his stick, but if he keeps pounding bodies I'll be more than happy.

T.J. Galiardi - Finally, we get to the man of the hour. Tonight, he got beat up, high sticked and probably kicked in the junk at some point. Yet it was Galiardi who drove the net, got knocked down, got right back up and stayed in front of the net, leading to the winning goal which banked off ol' Rob Blake's skate as Blake unsuccessfully tried to remove T.J. from the crease.

I don't know what Adam Foote said to this team in their closed door meeting before the game, but he should say it again on Friday.

And all of you should follow the same routine Friday that you did today. You don't want to jinx the team, do you?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

2010 Playoffs Round 1 - Avalanche vs Sharks

I'm still alive.

And so are the Avalanche. They have managed to limp into the playoffs on the heels of what is clearly a successful season in terms of a rebuild. Sure, a shot at a premiere left-winger on draft day would have been nice, but a streak of top-3 draft picks isn't the only recipe to success in this league. But you have to admit it can be a pretty good one.

As some long-time followers may recall, I'm originally from Ponteix, Saskatchewan, a small town about 10 minutes away from Aneroid, which is the home of Patrick Marleau. I know Patrick Marleau - though we're not buddies by any means - and my dad knows his dad quite well. The season Patrick had this year brought a smile to my face and yes, my celebration of Team Canada's Olympic Gold was boosted by Pat being on the team.

He is the true definition of a good person and a hard worker and he deserves all the success he's brought to himself.

The Sharks playoff disappointments hurt me on a personal level. I remember watching them bow out to the Edmonton freakin' Oilers in 2006 and how hollow I felt after that game. But that was against opponents other than the Colorado Avalanche.

When it comes to my team, should I not be able to push aside my personal feelings for my professional affiliation? Should I not dismiss the heartbreak of others so long as it leads to my emotional satisfaction? Why should I worry about sharing in grief over something I had no control over?

These are the issues I'm wrestling with heading in to tomorrow's game. I don't know which side of the coin I'll land on and I figure - like many other things - the coin will end up spinning on its side, never landing on heads or tails.

I'll cheer for Avalanche goals and wins, and begrudgingly feel happiness deep in the bowels of my emotions if Patrick - and by extension the Sharks - do well in the series.

But for now, fuck Patrick Marleau.