Sunday, May 04, 2008

A Terrible Ennui In Canada

One can only imagine the increasing panic in NHL offices this morning: phones jangling on a Sunday morning, breathless meadnering meetings. The Canadiens could not stop the Flyers. The referees cannot stop the Flyers. The NHL dream match up of a Finn (Koivu) and Russian (Kovalev) versus the greatest soccer player on ice (Sidney Crosby) has been postponed indefinitely. Nope, the eastern final will require teams to actually were helmets and hit people for sixty minutes.

A nice job by ESPN’s Scott Burnside. You fink! You missed this as bad as I missed the Derby. But you’re ostensibly a professional. Pylons on defense? True perhaps, but pylons with a pulse and courage.

Kevin Mio in the Montreal Gazette tries to soothe the residents of Quebec this morning:
It was a game the Canadiens probably shouldn't have lost - as was the case several times in this series - but in the end, Montreal made a few too many mistakes as key moments that allowed the Flyers to advance to the Eastern Conference final.
Gosh, I don’t know about that. Get beat four in a row? Sort of a trend there. I mean, had the Flyers won a fifth game in a row- which they almost did- would that remove some lingering doubt? So, no Stanley Cup for Canada this year- maybe they shouldn’t have been so quick to give up on the Nordiques, no? Adopt King Dollar, anything, as something needs to change?

As my father pointed out to me after Game Four, you shouldn’t overanalyze too much. Just where were the Canadiens not outplayed? The Flyers wingers were better, their defensemen a wash, and Montreal’s goaltending was horrid. Biron was pretty bad last night- for the second time in five games mindless Biron cheerleaders on Versus NHL Tonight- and they couldn’t win. The series was officiated in new NHL style- a parade of Flyers going to the box for being too rough and sassy- and Les Habitants could not take advantage.

Do you know “being sassy” is a minor penalty in the Swedish Elite League? You can look it up.

In the Frank Goal Judge Report: "If an attacking player has the puck deflect into the net off his skate or body, in any manner, the goal shall be allowed. . . . The goal shall not be allowed if the puck has been thrown or otherwise deliberately directed into the goal by any means other than a stick." On the Flyers’ second goal, Mike Richards absolutely tried to deliberately direct the puck and absolultely failed to do so. It hit him in the shoulder. No brainer: It counts.

The game was sort of a microcosm of much of the series. Down 3-1, the Flyers were forced to play the sort of game they play best- the very same one Coach Stevens is loathe to let them play with a lead- cycle their deep bunch of forwards and attack and score three-plus goals to win. Up 4-3, Stevens put them back in that shell emphasizing what they can’t do. Montreal promptly tied it- and the Flyers could get back to doing what they do best: score and score some more.

You can’t be down on a team in the conference finals- but yo! Coach. The answer to any scenario facing the Flyers, no matter what the media is telling you, is not “Boys, we gotta lean more on Hatcher, Jason Smith and Biron.”

Anyway, now we can sit back and hope the Rangers can bleed out the Penguins a little more.

Labels: , ,