Because I tend to not blog on the weekends, here is a feature that will run through the entire season. It aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact about each team that played. And hell, there’s a ton of other crap for me to blather on about too. And yes, I’m totally ripping off just about every other blogger ever’s weekly column, but that’s something you’ll have to deal with on your own time.
Danger: This post contains language that some people might not like. This will be the only thing on the site that regularly does so.
(Sorry for the lateness of this post. My internet was out pretty much all day yesterday, right up until 4 a.m., and you can only write so much of this mediocre garbage without internettery to check facts and so forth. Also it’s so hurried that I made no attempt to be especially funny. A thousand apologies.)
There’s a fundamental difference between an agitator and a punk. The line is very fine, of course, but such a line does, in fact, exist.
An agitator is someone who goes out and mouths off every shift, tries to get guys to take stupid retaliation penalties, and whose game teeters on the edge of gamesmanship rather unsportsmanlike horseshit. The perfect example of this is obviously Sean Avery.
I can understand why people don’t like Avery. He mouths off at every opportunity, he has what some people would call a “cowardly” style of play, he goes out of his way to find new and impressive ways to piss off the opposition and, on top of that, he acts more or less the same way off the ice. He’s one of the few NHLers that has a publicist (maybe the only one, but I’m assuming Sid Crosby has one at the very least), he interns at Vogue Magazine and gets a movie made out of it, he gives fashion advice on national television, he says Don Cherry is full of shit, he dates movie stars and models, he calls Marty Brodeur fat, and he reportedly makes life difficult for teammates. That’s a lot of things to be mad about if one is so inclined.
However, that’s exactly why I like him.
He could give a third of a fuck what anybody, least of all the mutant fans that show up at most NHL rinks or post on message boards, think about him, his game, and his lifestyle. Avery makes millions, gets laid, and has a movie based on his life and it’s because, if that’s what he wants, he’s doing everything exactly right.
Excepting all that, though, Avery is a hell of an effective hockey player. He can score you a couple goals, he can play a physical game, and he can force opponents to take penalties. At the price he’s paid against the cap, Sean Avery is a wonderful addition to your team if you’re willing to put up with the accompanying headaches because he is the textbook, picture-next-to-the-definition agitator. I wish the league was overflowing with guys like Sean Avery.
But the fundamental difference between a guy like Avery, who I love, and a guy like his linemate Steve Ott is simple. Avery is an agitator, but he doesn’t play to hurt people and he is not opposed to occasionally backing up his on-ice bullshit. Ott, on the other hand, can get fucked.
The difference between them was obvious in the above video of Dallas’ rollicking 5-1 loss to Boston on Saturday. Ott spent the entire fucking game trying to low-bridge Boston’s best players in an obvious attempt to cause an injury. He did it to Petteri Nokelainen, he did it to Milan Lucic, he did it to Stephane Yelle, he did it to Zdeno Chara. He also clearly charged Mark Stuart. In the event of the latter four plays, Ott stood there with his gloves on, refusing to oblige three separate willing combatants in the entire line that was out there at the time, Shawn Thornton, Sheriff Shane Hnidy, and Chara. Kind of understandable though. No one should want to fight those monsters, least of all Steve Ott.
Another thing that separates guys like Avery who do a specific job and guys like Ott who are simply gutless assholes is that while neither seem especially willing to fight on their own behalf, at least Avery stepped up and dropped his gloves when Andrew Ference demolished Ott in the neutral zone. That’s because Avery is a good teammate on the ice and he defends linemates even if their actions are indefensible. Ott wouldn’t do that for Avery because he’s a low-life piece of shit that has no place in the game whatsoever.
And congratulations, by the way, to Bruins coach Claude Julien, who could have bitched up a storm about the way Ott played. For once it’s nice to see a team official not give a shit about the league changing the rules to protect his precious players. Said Julien: “I’m not going to whine. We can stand up for ourselves. We can play those types of games. It’s not an issue. I don’t care. You won’t hear me complain. I think the fans enjoyed the show and we got ourselves a win. That’s all that counts.”
Wave a stick in front of Brodeur’s face and give out your fashion dos and don’ts all you want. Great job. But if you’re trying to hurt people, you deserve to have the dogshit beaten out of you by several large men. Getting a 10-minute misconduct for mouthing off to Stuart (as opposed to actually engaging him in any type of physical confrontation that would out Ott as the chickenshit he is) was the best thing that could have happened on Saturday. Otherwise, someone would have gone after him like Marc Savard did to Avery in that big line brawl that saw Hnidy drop about 40 Nagasaki bombs on Matt Niskanen’s face at the very least. It’s probably some sort of sacrilege or in poor taste to draw the comparison, but play like Ott’s (that is, clear attempts to injure that aren’t retaliated against) leads to the type of retaliation that led to Steve Moore getting paralyzed. Not that I expect any Bruins to try to put Ott in the hospital, but eventually someone’s going to see that as their only recourse because he simply won’t drop the gloves on account of something he did.
I know my enjoyment of Sean Avery’s work both on and off the ice is a fairly unpopular opinion in NHL circles, but I think we can all agree that compared to a dickface like Steve Ott, Sean Avery is a Lady Byng candidate.
What We Learned
Anaheim: Quite the run for the Ducks this week. Beating Detroit, snapping Calgary’s six-game winning streak, etc. is very impressive for a team that’s going to be in the Greater Los Angeles for quite a while in the coming weeks. Could spell trouble in the Pacific if they can open up a big lead over Dallas and gain ground on overperforming San Jose.
Atlanta: This whole Worst Team in the League thing is quickly becoming a Thunderdome. Two shitty teams enter, one shitty team gets the No. 1 overall pick. I still like the Islanders to get it, but these Thrashers sure are crummy, and losing Zach Bogosian to a broken leg really doesn’t help at all.
Boston: My my my, for anyone doubting this team’s toughness, it would be wise to refer to the prior Youtube video. The Bruins seem intent on not fighting until they feel it absolutely necessary, but they will then beat the living piss out of you once the line has been crossed. I don’t know where the line is, and I’ve watched most of the Bruins’ games, so you gotta think most teams wouldn’t either. That being the case, I wonder how eager teams will be to play the Bruins physical if it results in a beat-up group of players AND a huge loss.
Buffalo: Still not sure I can figure this team out. Obviously Tom Vanek has been just incredible and Ryan Miller has been pretty good considering all the injuries Buffalo has on defense, but the rest of the team is made up of guys that seemingly decide that half of them won’t show up for a given game on a rotating basis.
Calgary: Nice of Miikka Kiprusoff to start playing like Miikka Kiprusoff again. No coincidence that the second he brings his ‘A’ game, the team wins six in a row, right? I like this team’s scoring depth and its penalty killing but watching them struggle to pull out last-minute wins against Los Angeles is not theway I want to be spending my Saturday nights.
Carolina: Pretty decent week for the Canes, even if they lost a few games. Despite a slew of injuries and management being a bunch of crybabies about it (”They’re hurting our players please change all the rules so this doesn’t happen in the future thanks!”), they’ve played about as well as can be expected. I still think they’ll make the playoffs. The East is just awful this year.
Chicago: Not the best week for the Sons of Hiawatha, even if they won twice. Beating the Stars at this point is like beating a pee wee team, and scraping out a shootout win against the Blue Jackets is like scraping out a shootout win against the Stars. The former is expected to happen, and the latter should have never gotten that far. Patrick Kane, though, continues to be awesome. So there’s that.
Colorado: I’m so glad they’ve begun to look like shit again after briefly looking good sometime last week. Being right makes me feel very good about myself, and I pegged the Avs fourth in the Northwest. So far so good!
Columbus: The good news: Derrick Brassard has been unbelievable for the Jackets. The bad news: Do you ever really want Derrick Brassard to be your best player on any given night?
Dallas: The problems continue for Dallas and really it couldn’t happen to a more deserving group of shitburgers. The team’s a mess and it starts from the dressing room out. Big problems in the room mean big problems on the ice. How shocking that Steve Ott is involved, eh?
Detroit: Noooooot a good week for the defense even if they did pull out that win over Vancouver on Sunday. Like 13 goals against in three games or something crazy like that. If they’re not the worst defensive team in the league statistically (pro hint: they are), they sure fuckin’ look like it.
Edmonton: Note to Craig MacTavish: rotating goalies every night isn’t working. Pick the better one (read: Mathieu Garon) and stick with him.
Florida: If there’s a duller team in the NHL this year, I sure haven’t seen them. There’s really nothing at all to show up for.
Los Angeles: Kings fans love Jack Johnson. He’s very juiced up by the hype machine out west. But I’ll say this: Drew Doughty is what Jack Johnson was supposed to have been. That kid plays like a seasoned veteran, and he’s, what, a whopping 10 games into his NHL career? I shudder to think what he’ll do to his Western Conference opponent with a few years’ experience under his belt. Frightening talent in that kid.
Minnesota: This is once again the least exciting, least interesting, least talented hockey team in the Northwest. And once again, they inexplicably lead the division. I honestly don’t understand it. I’ve seen them play a few times and I just don’t see how they win games. It makes no sense. None. Please stop doing this, Minnesota. Please stop.
Montreal: I like the Habs because they don’t seem to ever try particularly hard against any opponent and they still win. There’s something admirable about that. When they turn it on they’ll be unstoppable in the East.
Nashville: Apart from Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, what is there to like about this team? Anyone? Will a Predators fan please leave a comment regarding what’s so good about this dreadfully mediocre team? I’m genuinely curious.
New Jersey: Martin Brodeur’s hurt. Bruised elbow. Why did PJ Stock spend all of his ill-used Hockey Night in Canada time screaming “NO ONE EVEN HIT HIM ON THE PLAY” as though his job is not to get in the way of a small, dense, thick piece of rubber moving at very high speeds? Maybe he got hit in the fucking elbow earlier and then when extending his arm, tweaked it. Was this some big mystery somehow?
New York Islanders: Goddamn are they awful. Up three on the Habs in the third period and they fucking lost the game in regulation. How is that even possible?
New York Rangers: I really don’t see why people like this team. I truly do not. They don’t score particularly well and if Henrik Lundqvist or, god forbid, Steve Valiquette has a shit night, they’re going to lose. Every time. The offense will NEVER bail this team out of goaltending problems. It just won’t happen.
Ottawa: This team is the exact opposite of above. They will always have goaltending problems and Martin Gerber will never steal his team a game when the offense struggles.
Philadelphia: Jesus why did I pick this team to finish second its division? Why why why? Another good team with absolutely no goaltending, except this one came out of left field in a way. Marty Biron wasn’t on Martin Gerber levels of awfulness last year.
Phoenix: I really wish this team was doing better. It’s so loveable even if it did send Enver Lisin back to the minors.
Pittsburgh: Jesus why did I pick this team to win its division? Why why why? I think I read the other day that Crosby and Malkin have 19 combined points (not bad!) and the rest of the team has 29 combined (very bad!).
St. Louis: In 2006 I went to St. Louis twice (ugh) and saw the Blues play some of the worst hockey I’d seen live to that point. It was embarrassing how bad they were. This team seems to be the complete opposite of that, which is awesome for them, not so much for me.
San Jose: Wow are these guys good. McClellan is running a pretty tight goddamn ship over there. Five-point cushion in the Pacific with a game in hand on Anaheim, and a +14 goal differential that’s the best in the NHL.
Tampa Bay: So Stamkos’ breakout night last week should have surely resulted in his getting more ice time, right? Not under Barry Melrose’s watch. Ice time for Stamkos in that Sens game Saturday: 13:54. Mark Recchi, meanwhile, played 18:12.
Toronto: What a fun team to watch. Everyone had them left for dead (I had them as third-worst in the NHL) but they’ve played well above what everyone had hoped for them and they play a fun game to watch. Good for you, Toronto.
Vancouver: They haven’t won a game in which they’ve scored less than four goals. With Roberto Luongo behind them. How crazy is that?
Washington: They really shouldn’t be this mediocre. ‘Course, they’ve only had one game against a division opponent and lost to Atlanta 7-4, so I dunno. Gotta figure once they get into the bulk of the division schedule they’ll be a lot better, especially with Ovie back.
Other stuff I picked up on
PJ Stock might be the worst broadcaster on television and with the Hockey Night in Canada crew of Kelly Hrudey and Mike Milbury to compete against, that’s saying something. His opinions stink, his delivery is mush-mouthed, and he’s in no way likeable. Please get PJ Stock off my television immediately. … Gary Bettman must be loving the Red Wings lately. They’ve combined with their opponents to score seven or more goals in seven of their last nine games. Ditto the Ducks, who have four in their last six, including a 13-goal shootout win over Vancouver that went 13 rounds. The New NHL sucks. … Because of my unhealthy love of Seth Rogen, I am considering seeing that new Kevin Smith movie. God help me. … Good for Alexander Semin for saying the league promotes Sid Crosby too much. People like Don Cherry reacted with outrage at it, but ignored the clear fact that Crosby is indeed a boring weirdo that still lives with Mario Lemieux. He’s not exciting off the ice at all, and you’d think the NHL would promote more than just Crosby. Here’s a great place to start: RICK NASH. … Also, Jarome Iginla. … Also also, Alex Ovechkin.
Play of the Weekend
You won’t have seen or heard about it, and it’s not on Youtube, but Marty Turco made about four ridiculous saves in the first period against Boston on Saturday before the whole game went to shit. Yeah he gave up his requisite five goals, but it should have been at least nine.
Gold star award
Alex Kovalev had four points in that comeback win over the Islanders. If you were to deduct the proper amount of points from that total because it was only against the Islanders, that’s still probably like 2.5 points, and that works for me.
If you think I’m posting shit on Election Day, you’s out yo mind. I have an unfortunate addiction to the silliness of American politics (politricks I call them haw haw haw) so I’ll be glued to my television set after waking up at 7 a.m. to stand in line to vote. Yes I’m serious.
Next week’s game I’m totally going to watch on Center Ice if I’m home
Since the election will most likely be decided well before 10:30 on Tuesday, it might be worth your while to cap the night with an exciting game between the Sharks and Wild, the Nos. 1 and 3 teams in the West, respectively. Why? Because Minnesota’s gonna get shut out and give up a 10-spot, that’s why.
Event that should replace the shootout and would be just as relevant to hockey skill
Thumb wars. Zdeno Chara would get the Bruins so many extra points it isn’t funny.
Soccer update only I care about
Holy christ, how does Liverpool lose to Tottenham? That whole match was a disaster and I don’t want to talk about it.
College hockey update only I care about
UMass Lowell keeps winning, punking out Quinnipiac 4-1 in a game that degenerated into an embarrassing attempt by The Q to injure as many UML players as possible. It was not cool. But UML kicking their heads in certainly was.
The No. 1 DVD I own and kind of want to watch this week but likely will not
Election. Get it? It’s a theme thing. Reese Witherspoon was so awesome in this movie. I can see why she became America’s Sweetheart.
An update on last week’s “No. 1 DVD I own and kind of want to watch this week but likely will not“
I watched all seven Treehouse of Horrors I wanted to. My favorite is still the one where Lisa creates a civilization in the tub. “Why that would require some kind of RE-bigulator!”
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
This one from UnderratedBrooks44 is entitled “The ONLY legit Malkin proposal.”
Perfecto as always.