Monday, April 30, 2007

Broadcast Heroes and Zeroes

(Cross-posted to HLOG as well. Sue me. I'm lazy, and things are quiet around here)

As the playoffs have been going, I've found myself watching a bit more hockey than usual, and with that, I've had exposure to a lot more broadcast teams than usual. So which ones have kept me glued to the games, and which ones have left me cold?

First, the three broadcast teams I bounced between for the Calgary-Detroit series.

Peter Maher & Mike Rogers (Fan 960: The end of games 1, 2, 5...also the entirety of Game 6): These guys were the gold standard in terms of quality of play by play during the series. Obviously, they get a lot more practice through the entire year, and cover the Flames exclusively. Despite that, coverage is decently balanced (I'm much more a homer than they are), and oftentimes, I found the radio feed to be much more informative even with, y'know, the lack of moving pictures. Only downside? I have to depend 100% on their coverage, not having any idea myself what is going on. Peter could tell me we shut them out 7-0, and I'd have to believe him...and I would!

Don Wittman & Drew Remenda (CBC: Parts of every game except Game 4): Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. I found Wittman's play by play constantly to be a bit behind what was happening on the ice, those times Remenda stayed silent enough for Wittman to collect his thoughts. And my dislike for Remenda is well known in the Flames blogosphere. Mute this. Best part of this for me? The graphic with the goalie which showed exactly where pucks are going in. Also, come back to the Mother Corporation for the commercials.

Mike Emrick & Ed Olczyk (NBC: Not enough of Game 1, 2, 5 ): A little voice inside my head tells me I should be handing back my Canadian passport, but Emrick and Olczyk were clearly the superior television broadcast team this go-round. Balance was much more balanced than on the CBC, and Emrick seemed to be better prepared and able to let the play speak for itself when appropriate. There were some verbal tics I found a bit disconcerting, but I can chalk that up to differences in hockeyspeak on different sides of the border. I found it interesting that almost every other Flames blogger I talked to ended up with the NBC feed for those games which were available. I think that alone speaks for the quality of play-by-play on NBC compared to CBC for a game both networks were broadcasting at the same time.

Honourable mentions: The teams on TSN who provided competent coverage of teams I wasn't really paying attention to first round. The CBC really will rue the day they lost Chris Cuthbert...

Dishonourable mentions: I don't usually pick on the CBC! But Bob Cole and Harry Neale (despite being split up and paired with Hughson and Millen) showed a lot of hiccups with teams-that-are-not-Toronto, and you could catch a lot of the key phrases which indicate, no, they have no idea who the hell that was.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Oh... There's a second round?

So I've had a couple of days of relative silence to mourn the aborted playoff run of '06-'07. After a full evening of compulsive cartoon-watching, I'm good to go again. I'm not going to present predictions for this round per se... just a bunch of thoughts on each series.

I might get some matchups wrong. Feel free to correct me, ok? The only matchup I've shown any real interest in over the last or so has been He-Man vs. Skeletor.

Buffalo vs New York
To me, the Rangers are absolutely a wild card this playoff run. I thought I had a pretty good read on them before the trade deadline - talented, but not enough finish to go far. Then they got Sean Avery. And I thought that was going to be the signal to send in the clowns. Not so much. I'm appalled by how well it's worked for the Rangers, actually.

Buffalo - not much to say here. They're damn good. Nice balanced team - I might question their ability to stay healthy the entire run.

The series? Well, everybody knows Avery has promised to take the body to the Sabres. I think the Sabres can cope with that sort of physical game, provided Avery doesn't do a stupid and injure Ryan Miller. Should be a fun one.

Ottawa vs New Jersey
Ottawa has been very "meh" to me all season. We know they have the parts. We know they made some decent pickups 'round the deadline. But Oleg Saprykin? Seriously?

I have to confess. I love the young talent the Devils are bringing to bear. Parise, Zajac, Oduya...there's some interesting stories here. That said, the Devils will go as far as Brodeur can take them. He didn't look that great against Tampa, from what I saw, but of all the goalies in the league, Brodeur should be the guy who can get over that.

The series? Might come down to goaltending. There's been question marks about Emery, not just in terms of his health, but about his relative lack of playoff experience. That said, Ottawa resembles Tampa somewhat in their makeup, and in how I think they'll have to approach a team like New Jersey. If the Devils can hang in there they way they did last round, I'll bet this one will go long.

How pathetic is that? I live in the Eastern Conference, and I freely admit I know nothing about teams there.

Anyways! On to the fun part...

Anaheim vs Vancouver
For me, this is very much the marquee matchup of the second round. There's the whole Brian Burke storyline, of course. I think this will be the kind of series Nashville/San Jose was in the first round. Hard-charging, hard-pounding, and a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

Detroit vs San Jose
Er. This is of course the only series I really have an outcome I want. Anybody but Detroit...

Yes, I'm petty. It's allowed.

That said, I can't see San Jose not working Detroit over. They're rested, and bring a lot of things to the post-season that Calgary didn't. On the other hand, there are a lot of young, extremely inexperienced players on the San Jose squad who might be coaxed into making errors. We'll have to see.

However, I know too well the kind of play Detroit can bring into the playoffs. I should write more about this at some point (though, it HURTS, it HURTS!), but Calgary never pushed Detroit as hard as they could go. So, it'll be interesting to see just how much Detroit kept in reserve, or whether they can't bring it out fast enough now that they actually need it.

As for the new guys hanging round Detroit? If you don't know how to pronounce their names, I found help.

I'm just saying.

Anyways, I won't be following the second round religiously. There's still some WHL action that I can distract myself with, as well as the worlds. I've had a lot of practice following these instead of the playoffs back in the dark ages - I'll be slipping back into that habit.

Monday, April 23, 2007

More Shame, of a Different Ilk

I'm not surprised at how last night's game ended up. I am slightly surprised that for all of the talk about class lately, there are a chorus of Oilers fans that celebrated the happiest day of their season last night. The thread on Battle of Alberta I just linked to is pretty incredible, in this respect.

There are 80 comments there as I post this, and the vast majority of them seem to come from what are clearly Edmonton natives. Some of these people bother with proper grammar, but most don't. They all share a common theme -- elation, poor sportsmanship, and no class. The whole starter of the thread is one Andy Grabia, who supposedly retired from the site what, 3-4 posts of his ago?

Is Andy your prototypical Oilers fan? Certainly one of the most vocal. I am amazed how many Oiler fans logged on late on a Saturday night to post immature taunts and comments to celebrate the loss of their provincial brethren.

One of the best comments comes from mc79hockey:

C' can't find a pic of Vernon skating off the ice after one of their countless OT losses with him in net?

For all the Flames fans who talked so much shit this year: eat it. One more year before the market realities kick in in Calgary. I think Iggy will look very nice in a Coyotes sweater.

Followed quickly by another comment he made:
They were just brutally outclassed.

Beaut, isn't it?

What is it about hockey that makes people from Edmonton act like children? (I idly note that Daymond Langkow, Jarome Iginla, and Jamie McLennan are all Edmonton born and raised).

It should be a crime for the Oiler fans to be able to mock or celebrate anything, given their season.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I'll do a more detailed post-mortem later this week... just let me take care of some stuff I've been neglecting in my life first.

P.S. Now will you guys get out there and scoop up some Hitmen tickets already, dammit?

Washing my hands

Well. It's been an interesting day or so, hasn't it?

As a hockey fan, it's been hugely entertaining as a playoff series to observe the ups and downs of the series.

As a Flames fan, it's kind of sucked, for obvious reasons. I hang out with more than enough people whose teams never made the playoffs to not appreciate our post-season run. But it hasn't been good. I'm more disappointed with yesterday's game on account of it feeling like one of those games which Playfair has had no control over. They've occurred quite often this season, sadly. Dude might not even be able to buy new suits over the summer... or have anywhere to wear them.

As a Flames blogger, I'm tired of this shit. I don't mind the groupthink so much, because honestly, it was really comforting to be able to hop online and bitch about the game, and not have to watch the gong show which was the third.

I am tired of reading my faves in the Flames blogosphere, and watching anonymice pour up out of the woodwork and readers who've been reading us for all of the last two weeks flood these guys with smug assertions about "at least our team is way more classy than that." Than what? It's the playoffs. Nobody is going to play with kid gloves on, and if the Wings can't play that game either, then maybe they should stay on the bench, and let the Wheel of Justice play for them.

It's a war of attrition. If it weren't, Holmstrom wouldn't have planted his ass in Kipper's face, there wouldn't be random grabbing and slashing by just about every player on the ice, Hasek wouldn't be trying for a Razzie. Last team standing wins, and if you don't plan on being standing at the end, then at least make the other guys fight for every inch they take.

On that level, I have no issues with what happened in the third period last night. I'm perhaps embarrassed that it got to that, rather than taking it to the Wings in terms of well, actually playing hockey. But I have no issues with the Calgary Flames having to make a statement about whether they want to be in the playoffs or not. (I think they said, Maybe. Which is a bit late. Oh well.)

Good sportsmanship? Is that what you show when your team wins the game anyways, and you still complain to our team's fans that their team was too dirty? Ad nauseam?

And hearing from these near-strangers that that our captain is not captain material? Have they done their homework at all? Isn't coming here basically what their homework should be? Have they been orbiting Uranus for the last five years? Just what do they know about Jarome Iginla?

I've watched this guy since we got Jarome Who? for Joe Who?, since we plopped him into our last playoff series of the 90s, and there is no better captain in the league. You haven't watched him patiently take time out of his personal life to chat to fans. You haven't watched him eschew most of the pre-game warmup to sign autographs for kids who have no greater hero. You haven't heard him stay positive and answer the same question over and over again cheerfully for every single dumbass reporter he has to talk to (and oh, god, that zillion-watt smile).

You haven't watched him blossom into a force for Canada in international play, and fucking pick up the Calgary Flames, and carry them where they need to go when it's time to go. And sure, I've watched him do that all too often. There is no one else currently playing I'd rather have captain the Flames, and anybody who thinks he doesn't deserve that honour is a fool. Rather, all too often, that honour doesn't deserve Jarome Iginla.

It's somewhat a bleak outlook for the Flames these playoffs admittedly. But when this series at least is over, Iggy will still be our captain and the heart of the team, and at least there'll be some peace and quiet around here. And amen to that.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

There is a line, and it has been crossed.

Ladies and gentlemen, today's game was beyond embarrassing. The play is bad enough -- it was just bad hockey. But towards the end of the game, when it descended into goonery, thuggary, and downright unsportsmanlike behaviour, I was completely ashamed of my team.

Langkow's undercut...
McLennan's slash...
Iginla's butt-end...

Shame on you guys, because you have shamed us all.

As far as I'm concerned, the post-season is now over. Sutter has a lot of work to do, and I'm starting to lose my patience with him, too. He should have had the balls and the smarts to dismiss Playfair long ago before we even got to this place. No post would be acceptable without a shot to Playfair, but of course I blame him for this as well. He should've been fired a long, long time ago. The man has no spine, no intelligence, and no career in this league.

I will see you all in 07-08, hopefully on a better note.

Game 5: That will be all.

Mid-Game Ranting

Mr. Playfair: Why is Amonte getting so much PowerPlay time?

Mr. Iginla: Step it up...

Mr. Phaneuf: Just sit down for the rest of the second period.

Mr. Cleary: Karma's a bitch...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Calgary-Detroit Game 4 Post-Game

We won! So I am a bit happy. We're now down to a 3-game series. Tomorrow's game, like all Playoff games but just a bit huge. I'm already incredibly nervous and twitchy, and the high of the victory last night is wearing off as doubt and second-guessing.

I'm thinking mostly of how Detroit dominated at home, and Calgary "squeaked out" two wins at home. I'm hoping Calgary can sustain this momentum, but to be honest I'm not very confident. There's really not much else to say but stay physical team, and stay awesome Kipper!

On a related note, I've heard that the Red Wings are once again asking fans to wear red to tomorrow's games. I don't understand why they would do that again. It hadn't worked in games 1 and 2, and then they counteracted the effect by handing out white towels. Most of the fans jerseys are also white, so do they not want people to wear Red Wings jerseys and instead wear generic red shirts they may have?

It's just a half-baked idea. They can't compete with the C of Red, so why try? It just makes the organization look desperate, with a tinge of being pathetic. Just give it up, Detroit, you aren't hockeytown any more...we all know it, and you can't convince me otherwise.

PS: Props to Leanne for a mad-crazy liveblog last night. You are a trooper!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Detroit Liveblog: Playoff edition

Well...dunno when another liveblog will happen. Times like playoffs, I miss having a laptop...thanks for hanging out as always. It will be done again!

Sometimes I wonder who will lose their voice/black out first, Peter Maher, or Beasley the PA guy.

12:08 AM: Ahhh. They're playing Johnny Cash in the rink where he belongs.



12:06 AM: Iggy! That's the most exciting play in hockey! You can't miss that! Especially when Hasek coughs it up like that!

12:05 AM: There you go. Now my pulse is accelerating. 1:45 left to go...

12:04 AM: Icing the puck repeatedly with 3 mins left in the game is going to make for a long night.

12:01 AM: Ok, actually... can I rant about the kind of pressure Detroit's putting on us? Why does this have to be all Kipper?

12:00 AM: Kipper. He is the man. I have (I suspect) little to do tonight besides worship the goaltender.

11:57 PM: Bit of a scrum. I'm really hoping Draper will go off for something. Like, (borrowing HG's word of the night) for being an asshat.

11:55 PM: Goddamn. Longest PK ever. Kipper, you're a god.'re forgiven for that penalty at the start of the period.


11:54 PM: Yelle's been so crazy good today. Good work on the PK so far, guys...

Isn't this so much better than this time last week?

11:52 PM: Oh, Rhett. Good call in taking the penalty, but you want a time out, just go back to the dressing room to get stitched up again, eh?

11:50 PM: It occurs to me that I've been doing this for two hours, and I haven't screamed at my computer once. What is it about TV that's so stressful?

11:47 PM: Juice! You're alive! Now, I hope the next one doesn't go off the post.

11:45 PM: Ooo...another PP (drawn this time by crazygood Lombo)? Zyuzin gets a shot at the goal? What's next?

11:43 PM: Langkow tries for the boot trick. Gworgeous setup from Iggy. No dice. Awwwww...

11:40 PM: A boring period wouldn't be that horrible a thing for us. Yawwwwwn. Can I just say that my commentators are better at telling me what's happening than yours are? Screw all that moving-picture business.

11:37 PM: Mostly all Wings this period...but wait, Amonte steals the puck? And Lebda is back, I see. Wait, I can't see anything...

11:35 PM: Stuart's had another good game, I think. We're not missing Regehr nearly as much as I feared we might, overall.

11:34 PM: Susan? Did you make a play to clear the puck? And it worked?

11:32 PM: I make incoherent gibbering noises. I know Detroit's PP isn't strong this series, but let's not throw them any frickin' bones, eh?

11:31 PM: Oh, Friesen. It's been a while since you were a dumbass. Not a good way to start the third...

11:30 PM: Here we go... finish strong, guys! (Peter Maher just pimped Intellibed, for those of you keeping score on the advertising front. Remember when we talked aobut his sideline as a mattress salesman?)

11:23 PM: Well. They're not stumping the Schwab in the intermission interview. He thinks hockey is all about "what have you done for me lately?" He's probably got a point...

11:16 PM: Nobody on the team has a "personal services" contract Gretzky style, do they? 'Cause I just had the thought that maybe they were threatened with having to do the dishes at Flames Central 'till playoffs are over if they didn't shape the hell up...

11:12 PM: Buzz


11:06 PM: Lebda heads to the dressing room? Let's see if they can come back for the rest of the game the way our guys can...

11:04 PM: Oh, Iggy. The radio guys thought it was going to Chelios. Tricky man.

11:03 PM: Our PP starts. Langkow... come on... please?

11:02 PM: What did I tell you about Yelle? Didn't I say something like Who lets him go on breakaways? already tonight? And he draws a penalty. Good man.

11:00 PM: We're on the PK. Dangerous. Yelle's had a strong period though. So underappreciated, is ol' Sandbox.

10:57 PM: Peter Maher's put Langkow on Boot Trick alert. I guess Alberta Boot hasn't been giving too many pairs away.

Shit, did I just crash Blogger?

10:54 PM: "Third lead of the game." Just hearing that makes me giddy.

10:53 PM: Has anybody besides Hammer gone after Cleary yet?

10:51 PM: DAYYYYYYYYYYYYYMOND LANNNNNNGGGGGGKOW! Hot stuff. Glad he and Tangs came to play today.

10:50 PM: Another 5-3 caused by Iggy. And colour me biased, but Lidstrom's been not his usual self tonight.

The Doomsday chips are heating things up. I just popped a window open. Just to get cooler.

10:48 PM: Enjoying Steady Eddy, kids, huh?? We're going on the PP, btw. Thanks to Robert Lang, and Baywest Homes, and the Power of the Red Pen.

10:44 PM: Flames need to come back out of the dressing room.

10:40 PM: Kipper is stepping up so far. I think. I was on the phone. Poll: Do I let Dave take over during the third and hop in my car and drive five minutes away to somebody with time-splitting?

10:38 PM: Apparently Maher isn't immune to broadcastitis. We had Same-uelsson for a bit.

10:37 PM: Detroit comes out hard. Iggy hits back. But it's Huselius with the penalty. Sorry Dave, I liked him better when he was being invisible.

10:34 PM: Here we go again...

10:29 PM: I've just uncorked my doomsday device. That's right, Old Dutch chips. The jalapeno cheese kettle chips. You got nothin' on the chips, Detroit.

(Note to people outside of Ontario. They finally started selling them here. You wouldn't understand what it's like...

10:17 PM: Buzz. Well...a strong start for us. Unfortunately also a strong one by Bertuzzi. Damn him.

10:12 PM: As a calibration point, the crowd noise really hasn't changed despite who's scored more recently. It's just always really fucking loud. Good for them. Now if we can convince some of these guys to pick up some Hitmen tix too...

The radio guys lecture on the importance of winning faceoffs. Heed their wisdom.

Thanks, Dave

10:10 PM: Oh, boourns. Somebody hit Bertuzzi harder. Yes, Phaneuf, I'm looking at you.

10:08 PM: Ok... can we step up the play after we score? It makes me nervous when they come back strong after we pot one.

10:06 PM: Oh, the sweet sweet sounds of goalies being heckled.

10:04 PM, II: Conroy! About time you got something for your work up there. Woot!

10:04 PM: Hmm. Who let the Wings wake up? That high-altitude air plus the late gametime was supposed to make them more drowsy than me, at work just after lunch.

10:00 PM: Oh! New commercial on the radio. Though washable leather shoes sounds like ... vaguely infomerical-type material.

Oh, boourns. Bertuzzi? You're kidding me.

9:57 PM: Is it bad of me to get the giggles whenever Yelle runs into the offensive zone with the puck? Or Nilson? But good pressure there. What are the Wings doing, letting them get chances? But who cares... just do it more!

9:54 PM: I grow impati...


The big line finally acts their size.

9:50 PM: Oho! Is that a 5-on-3 Iggy drew? Shwwweeeet. I'm told that it could have been offsetting penalties, but let's hope this is the beginning of Hasek going off his rocker.

9:47 PM: PP. Let's do 'er.

9:46 PM: Awright! I expect this to be the night of people finally showing up, dammit! That's you, Conroy, and you, Tanguay, and you, Huselius, and you, Moss.

9:45 PM: Not a fantastic PK, but we're hanging in there. Don't make me regret writing that.

9:43 PM: Well. That was quick. At least we held off with the penalties a bit longer than when in the Joe, eh? Oh, Davey.

What I said last time about the crowd. Damn you, CBC! So far I haven't had to worry about Regehr still being out. Phaneuf and Warrener are back in.

9:40 PM: Puck drops. Booyeah!

9:33 PM: I receive the first complaint of the night about Drew. Also, what is the deal with all the bloggers getting tickets to the game? At least I won't be competing for liveblog attention with BofA's Fenwick tonight.

9:31 PM: Laughing my ass off at HG's vid...jitters, jitters, jitters. Wondering how my boys are doing with that chick flick they opted to go for instead of internet radio happiness with me.

My tax dollars are apparently not supporting a broadcast of the Calgary-Detroit game on cable where I what better time to trot out the liveblog???

(People who remember the last one will know I'm doing this using internet radio from the Fan960, chilling with my favourite Flames broadcasters ever. So. No IMing about stuff related to the game till after I post snarky comments about it.)

And without further ado: Just. Bring. It.

This is the Dawning of the Age of Huselius

I really wanted to use that headline when Huselius kicked ass in the playoffs. I'm still waiting, Juice! Time to kick it up a few notches! BAM! And all that. Dazzle me with your squirmy miracle working, this is a good game to do it.

For if the Flames lose this one, it's all over. It's a big, big game that, apparently, many people will not get to watch in favour of the most exciting playoff series to date -- Vancouver vs Dallas. Yippie. Regehr will have a great seat in the press box, which does concern me, but I'm really glad Giordano can stay on the team as well.

What needs to be done to pick up the W? The usual...

  • Very strong, very tough, very crash-crash-bang-bangy physical play.
  • Ability to actually clear the zone when needed.
  • Stay out of the box! But stay physical! They're not mutually exclusive, Playfair...
  • Intimidate the De-troy-it players with a thunderous audience that actually cares enough about the team to wear jerseys (suck it, "Hockeytown", you are impostors!)
  • Taunting Hasek repeatedly with awful taunts (eg, "Hasek! Why don't you make like your country and split!")
  • Scoring is a plus.
  • Keeping the puck out of our own net is plus-plus.
  • Kipper, stay strong, brother!
Bring it! The best part of the awful start in this series is my lowered expectations. I've nowhere to go but up, and damnit, I wanna get hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh on this team. Upwards and away, my children! Play like you mean it!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Sixth Man

We knew this was going to happen, right?

The boys would come home, they would be confronted by a lot of finger-pointing and dark mutterings, they would be uptight for a bit. Then, gametime would hit, they would be showed up by the anthem singer (can you believe she's back at work, what, just a few weeks after popping out a baby?), and then the crowd in the Saddledome would take over.

I love the intensity of that crowd. I love it when they're on. And it sucks knowing I mostly can't be a part of that crowd, living on the other side of the country as I do. And I've come to believe it's the home crowd which focuses these guys and makes them ready to kick some butt. See, the guys can give up on each other when they're the Evil Twins and embarrassing themselves on the road. But the crowd at home won't let them give up. They won't let the Flames roll over once they're down by a goal. And the Flames use that energy to their advantage. And who could blame them?

Oh, right! They played hockey too!

Kudos to a lot of guys for finally stepping up. Stuart played strong most of the night, despite one egregious giveaway at the end of the game. Warrener and Phaneuf both took injuries which, in the regular season, probably would have been game-ending. But screw that, they came back to play anyways. Iggy finally capitalized on mistakes the other side was making. But the guy who really stepped it up this game was Mark Giordano. (Not that I'm saying anything original. It's been all over the blogosphere already, and before the series started too...)

Was it a perfect game? Hardly. There's still a lot of flaws - times when we're too tentative in Detroit's zone, times when we still suck in the defensive zone. But we got a lead, we won back the lead, and we kept the lead till the end of the game. And right now, I'll take it.

It's a step in the right direction, and it's a better game than we've seen from these guys for the better part of the last three weeks. I still have a little bouncy ball in my stomach. It'll rattle around a bit less if we tie it up tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Detroit: Game 3: A Preview

10:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm Mountain...

Playfair looks to be coach for the rest of the season. It's not too surprising, Sutter seems to like to stick to his guns. He rarely pulls goaltenders, too.

As far as I can tell, it's somewhat of a nothing game. The Flames can absolutely dominate the next two games and I'll still be mopey and not impressed. I'm currently at a stage where I'm trying to evaluate a new team to cheer for for the duration of the playoffs. Right now, it has to be Dallas...if only because of their opponent.

My prediction?
4-3 Flames...while still being outshot.

Monday, April 16, 2007

And now for something completely different...

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the opinion of an online acquaintance of mine. Disclaimers: He is a life-long Maple Leafs fan and currently lives in Hong Kong and has not seen the vast majority of hockey taking place this year, especially Flames games (who he hates), but still makes "authoritative comments" based on the premise that he plays in a rec league in HK.

The problem isn't the Flames coach. There's a lack of leadership in the ice. Players aren't stepping up their game to the playoff level in general and to fill the void left by injuries. With Regehr injured, there's a massive gap on the blue line and Wings are exploiting it.

So the Flames problems are more about lack of leadership, heart, grit, depth and talent (compared to the Wings).

The only hope the Flames have is that their fans can give them a boost to at least give them a fighting chance against the Wings. I doubt it will be enough.

And another response of his:
Your idiot blogger says the Flames has lots of leaders, and then says the team is rudderless. Maybe that's cause none of the "leaders" are leading, eh. If Playfair isn't organizing the team, then why don't the "leaders" step in and lead.

Your idiot blogger talks about Tanguay having playoff experience, but anyone who does playoff pools knows he rarely performs well in the post-season. He had one good playoff run years ago. And Yelle, he's a great checker, can lead by example, but a leader who can turn a team around... yeah, right.

What really shocks me is that you're a Flames fan, but don't know that Regehr didn't play the first game because of injuries and was playing injured in the second game. His injury was so bad that he had to sit out the last period. If you know anything about playoff hockey then you would know a guy like Regehr doesn't stop playing unless the injury was really bad.

And as a Flames fan, you should know that last year, Regehr and Leopold were the pair that shut down the other team's top lines. This year, the Flames have struggled to find a d-man who can work well with Regehr. With Leopold traded and Regehr injured, there's a massive Hole in the flames blue line corp.

How can you not know this? How can you say there is no massive gap?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Go, Hitmen, Go!

Third round, onwards!

BTW... Calgary's pro club...what're they called again? Fir...yes, fire the coach...but team name... anyways. They could take a hint from these kids.

That was stunning

I woke up at the crack of dawn today, spent $125 on playoff tickets, and drove 4 hours through the shadiest Canadian cities (Windsor) and its plethora of strip clubs only to arrive in Detroit.

What a culture shock for me. The first sight a visitor from Canada is greeted with is a hollowed-out shell of a building that you can actually see through.
In a brilliant act of foreshadowing, I took an image of that building. It would later become a perfect analogy for the Flames team that decided to show up only by their physical presence in the state.

The Joe Louis Arena -- like today -- is one unexpectedly ugly mofo. It's incredibly poorly designed. And ugly. Here's one of the walkways leading to the arena. It's a 1960s spaceage-era, accented with ribbed concrete. Nice.
It was poorly organized, to say the least. Canadian customers can only pick up their tickets from Will Call. Them and about 10,000 other people...we arrived 30 minutes before the game (we would've been there 1.5 hours before, had US Customs not been incredibly inept...but that's another story). We were greeted with an incredible Will Call lineup that stretches from the Joe Louis entrance, all along the right side, and to the middle of the back. Wow...

We finally made it to our seats. Amazingly, there were lots of empty seats available all game. This was not a sell out. The atmosphere is not even close to as electric or exciting as a home Flames playoff game. Most fans aren't even wearing jerseys. Free red shirts were given out to many people, and free white towels were given to everyone to make them part of the "red wave". Think of it as a pathetic "Calgary-meets-Vancouver" ripoff festival that didn't really work out. "Posers" is the first word that comes to mind.

Did I ever tell you that Calgary's scoreboard completely owns their pathetic, ghetto scoreboard? Yeah, let's just focus on that for a bit...

Speaking of ghetto, the entire arena is ghetto. Not as bad as the Detroit Tigers stadium right near by, which is visibly rusting and needs a paint job, but still bad. The design itself is terrible -- there is but one concourse for the entire arena. After the 1st period, I waited in line for 25 minutes to use the urinal and there was still a massive line behind me. It was unreal, I've never seen anything like it before in an arena. The middle-aged gentlemen behind me in line were, rather seriously, discussing how nice the new stainless steal troughs were at this particular restroom. They're stainless! Seriously! Apparently this is a luxury in Detroit...

The only positive of this game? Kipper! He was awesome today.

The rest of the team? Well. Well...Well.... I've been so infuriated today by it I will succinctly summarize what happened in the game:
Period 2: Where the hell were you guys hiding?
Period 3: HAHAHAHAHAHA / Screw this, I'm bailing early to beat the border traffic

By the way, Bob McKenzie is jumping on the Fire Playfair bandwagon that I unofficially started in November. He says fire Playfair before Game 3. I cannot agree more.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Happy thoughts!

You're laughing already, aren't you? They laughed at me when I blithely assured everyone that the Flames were going ALL THE WAY after eight years without making the playoffs.

I got the last laugh.

I've savoured the taste of my own bile once this year already and have no intention of doing so again, despite the steaming pool of vomit which was the game last night.

My first instinct is always to be a bit protective of the team after a stinker like that. After last night, I needed some cooling-off time for that particular instinct to set in, but it's woken up again.

I see that game as a wasted opportunity, not a pre-cursor to a blown playoff run. I still find it difficult to believe that they might be swept, simply because I don't believe the Evil Twins can stay out in the open four games in a row, especially with two at home. And if the Evil Twins wanted to come out and play, at least they did so in style. Go big or go home!

The near-total failure of the team yesterday I blame (as has pretty much everybody I've talked to who's seen more than five minutes of that game) on the coaching. There were just too many individual failures, unless perhaps Iggy's flu has moved onwards to the entire team. (If so, then our chances are pretty much shot, I'll admit that, but what are they doing on the plane? Playing Spin the Bottle?)

I'm not going to harp on it anymore. We've been talking about it for months on this blog, and elsewhere in the Flames blogosphere. However, at this point, we have to be realistic. Fatalistically, what we got is what we're stuck with, bad fashion and all. Sucks, but whatcha gonna do?

And I'm going to invoke the ghost of Flames coaches past (especially because of the high disdain with which we've held the current incumbent this year), specifically ol' Badger Bob (the only one of them who could be a ghost, really).

"We've got them where we want them!"

Anybody else remember that ol' chestnut?


You guys should really look that up.

And it could be very well true, too. Really, it's a small wonder so many of the Detroit press and blogosphere have quickly concluded it's gonna be real fast from here - recall that our last game there was a stinker too (one where they were recovering from a trade that shook us all, and where I was recovering from having puked repeatedly into a snowbank. Among other places. Sorry 'bout that, Dave.)

I've taken a certain amount of perverse pleasure in the unrelenting dismissal of Calgary as a contender as the aftermath of last night's game. I don't think it's a bad thing to have happened. With our expectations all a bit lower today than they were Thursday morning, the pressure really is off. At the beginning of yesterday's game, I wanted them to splatter Detroit like an octopus tossed on the ice... by the end of the second period I just wanted them to pot one goal.

And over the last day, I've fallen back into a frame of mind where I can just shrug and let it go, and think appallingly optimistic do-I-not-realize-what-just-went-down thoughts. Things like, So what? We just win four of the next six now. Meh. And Well, at least the guys are all rested! And They were stirring things up in the third...

Anyways, kids, happy thoughts! Lots of hockey left.

Also, can I point out the example of Calgary's other hockey team? They came home early this week down 0-2 in the second round of their playoffs. They evened things out with 8-1 and 5-1 victories, and just tonight, they took the lead in the series with a 5-4 win.

Playoffs, man. Anything can happen. And does.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

More goals for the playoffs

So. I had some time to think about more things I wanted to do during the playoffs.

  1. Grin madly when I hear the broadcast tandem use the title of our blog in the course of normal conversation
  2. Take deep breaths
  3. Listen to Peter Maher more when we get Don Wittman and Drew. Screw this whole TV thing with the moving pictures.
  4. Not watch games when the guys don't actually bother flying out to the other city to play
  5. Realize that with the TV off, you can't see what sort of fashion atrocity Playfair is committing
  6. Remember ulcers aren't worth it.
  7. Remind myself that yes, other rinks are allowed to play Ring of Fire, it doesn't necessarily imply a cut direct when the other guys play it. My. Ass.
  8. Keep on reminding all our readers there that just because it's NHL playoff time, doesn't mean they're allowed to ignore that other team in know...the ones with the fantabulous playoff run to date? What are they doing with the lowest attendance all season? Fuck that.
  9. Spend more quality time on the phone with the parents so you can say insightful things, such as "Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!"
  10. Remember my expectations were much much lower not more than oh, three years ago
  11. Work really hard on trying not to cry

Game? What game? Oh, right. That. Read what HG has to say. She said it all.

I Went To The Bathroom With Wellwood and Colaiacovo

Apparently the Flames didn't play tonight. Let's not even discuss it. The NHL has canceled the first game, so it's now a six game series! Go Flames! (Leanne left me a voicemail telling me to not watch the game I recorded, under any circumstances. Thank you!)

I had an interesting time at the Jays game today. Not because of the baseball, which was boring, but the fans. There were a couple guys in Sens jerseys at the game. Drunken Leafs fans yelled obscenities at them that made no sense ("You ****ers have never made it past the first round!" etc). They got ejected.

Another rowdy Detroit Tigers fan was ejected too, for being a douche.

But the best part? Matt Stajan, Kyle Wellwood, Colaiacovo, and Wisniewski were sitting some 10 rows infront of me, right in the first row. They threw the first pitch, too.

One two occasions, drunken fans came down and started verbally assaulting all of the Leafs players for everything under the sun. Eventually the cops came and dragged them away -- but one of the guys was so drunk he started fighting the cop. Was hilarious to see the old men security guards try to help. Lots of cheering ensued.

Later on in the game, I'm at the pisser, I zip up, and Kyle Wellwood is right behind me and takes my urinal. Colaiacovo was in line behind him.

Guys seemed really nice, despite the team they play for. Not that I talked to them or anything (the bathroom is a really bad place for that), but how many people can say they snuck off to the bathrooms with the young Leafs players? Mwahaha.

By the way, I'm totally regretting buying Sunday's game tickets...

Goals for the playoffs

Not them, but me.

  1. Acheive a zen state where games don't make you twitch all day long
  2. Twitch from sheer nerves anyways
  3. Find a way to teach people that you spell him P-H-A-N-E-U-F
  4. Revel in the fact that P-H-A-N-E-U-F gets the competition P-I-S-S-E-D O-F-F
  5. Knit a baby blanket while watching games on TV
  6. Abuse an exercise ball while watching games on TV
  7. Try not to acquire the shape of an exercise ball while watching games on TV
  8. Pull off another liveblog.
  9. More good times with the rest of the Flames blogosphere, Exiled-in-Toronto chapter. Once we have some wins in the bag.
  10. Be more focused on things not hockey during the day
  11. Be amazed life exists outside of hockey during the day
  12. More analysis, less emoting
  13. Oh, what the hell. LOTS more emoting!

Hopefully the boys are much more focused than I am. I can only conclude from overdosing on the last couple days of analysis that all the tools the Flames could want to win are in place. I'm reminded again (and I vaguely remember talking about this in the early days of the blog) that Sutter brought this team together not to win games in the regular season, but to win games in the playoffs. So, into the crucible they go...

In a way, I'm glad we're starting out on the road, which will not have the distractions of the Red Mile, the C of Red, Flames Central, and a fanbase which is so tense about their playoff performance that it hurts. I think the mission for tonight is to come out strong and physical, for the D-men to close ranks around Regehr (who of course will not skate tonight), and to start wearing down the Wings as quickly as possible.

I don't have anything else. I'm going to be ecstatic when the game's started, for the simple reason that it's started. Go Flames.

A battle of the special teams

Are you ready? I'm nervous as hell. And it got 10 times worse this morning when I'd read that Mick McGeough is going to be reffing tonight's game. Oh, sweet jesus. Make it stop...

I'm very glad, now, that I won't be watching this game live. No, I'm going to a Blue Jays game (yeah, heathen) and PVRing the game to watch as soon as I get home. So if it becomes the McShow, I'll be able to fastforward past the flailing arms and ill-timed whistles to see the result.

As for my predictions? I think it'll go to seven games.

I think Detroit has a huge edge in coaching.
I think otherwise, the teams are comparable.

I'm very hesitant to make detailed predictions because they're all simply shots in the dark. But, since I'm being forced to make one, I'm going to say (Go Flames Go) Flames in 7...we'll win them all at home and squeak out 1 road win. Hopefully Sunday...

(please...go flames go...please...please)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Scoping out the competition

It's come to my attention that quite a few members of the Detroit blogosphere have been poking around, and it's definitely time to return the favour. Now, ordinarily, I really don't pay much attention at all to anything Detroit related, so I've been reading like crazy to catch up. Not that I think it helped much, but at least I got some homework done.

Here's a few of the Detroit blogs which have caught my attention:

Playoff Preview: Go Flames Go edition

Another day and a half to go, and really, I want to get it over with, already.

Bloggers and mass media everywhere have been sacrificing sleep, coffee, and actual social lives in an attempt to predict the outcomes of the playoffs from now till mid-June sometime when the Cup actually gets hoisted.

Am I going to go over the whole league? Not really... as intriguing as some of the matchups are (who doesn't think Ottawa-Pittsburgh is going to be a fantastic series?), there's really only one team I care about.

The fantastic thing about the playoffs is, the reset button got hit Sunday night as soon as that abysmal game ended. The less said about that, the better. Though watching it with most of the rest of the Toronto-based Flames blogosphere helped salve the hurt somewhat.

And now we get to play Detroit four to seven times in a row?

My prediction Calgary in six
Honestly, I do believe we can compete with Detroit, that we can wear them out, we can batter them 'till they scream for mercy. I don't think I'm saying anything new here, but there are things we must do well in the series.

Bash and Smash: Remember when Phaneuf played in the playoffs last year? With the broken foot? He's healthy this year, and as part of Calgary's top defensive pairing, and as a guy with a rep for hitting hard and hitting often, he has got to leave a trail of red-and-white jerseys sprawled on the ice around him. It's even more important with Regehr and Warrener injured, though of course, to what degree none of us know.

There's been concern that we're not as gritty a team as say, went into the playoffs in 2004. Having McCarty or Godard line up for their five minutes a game will help with that, but we need Ritchie, Primeau, Yelle, Nilson, and Friesen to step it up. I've actually been impressed with our third and fourth lines lately, and not because they've been scoring hat tricks.

Tit for Tat: We know how disgustingly talented Detroit is. We simply have to be able to keep up with them. Goaltending is likely our best chance to do that. Hasek is a wild card in the series. Nobody knows whether he'll stay on the keel, stay healthy, or just simply stand on his head while juggling sashimi knives and octopi. This year, things are different though. It may be that Kipper doesn't have outduel Hasek.

We have to take their game back to them. Every time they come down the ice with Datsyuk and Zetterberg, Huselius has to come back the other way and work them over. As does Iggy. And Tanguay. And Langkow. It has been a pleasure to see the most offensively gifted Flames club since the glory days. And I hope they pull out all the stops for playoff time.

Zig and Zag: We have a couple of guys who are question marks, and they need to be on, on, on right now. First one is Lombardi. It's seemed to me since the trade deadline that the coaches don't really know what to do with him, which is a crying shame. This year, nothing has brough a smile to my face faster than Lombardi sprinting down the ice, deking out the goalie, and adding another SHG to his tally.

The other one is Moss. I don't really consider that he's been fully tested yet. He's seemed to have led a charmed season, where really, he hasn't made any glaring mistakes. Of course, whether he can continue this play through the playoffs remains to be seen. I want him to do well, but time will tell.

Speaking of zigging and zagging, one huge positive for the Flames has got to be the abundance of spare parts this year. Every part of the team (except debatably, in goal) is a lot deeper and a lot more talented. No more Brennan Evans this postseason! The Knights down in the AHL have some fine, fine talent, and although I wish them well in their own post-season, at least I know we've got backup.

Expect a couple more lil' blurbs over the next day or so. Dave has to chime in with whatever he wants to say, and there's a few more things I wanted to talk about.

So, a happy belated birthday to Dion Phaneuf (22?? You're making feel old, boy), screw you, Maggie the Monkey, and, Go. Flames. Go.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Shouldn't this be a happy time?

First, my humble apologies to the Toronto Flames Blogosphere for bailing on the meetup due to the flu bug that I seem to have caught from Jarome (who probably got it from Dion). But it's for the better, you may have seen my crying after that game.

I'd imagine most people would be delirious with the thought of making the NHL Playoffs. Normally, I would be too. I still haven't decided if my trepidation is due to the Flames' early exit last season, if it's a result of entering the playoffs on a four game losing skid, if it's a result of the perceived glorious ineptitude of Jim Playfair, or a combination of all of the above. I'm not excited for the playoffs this year, at least from a Go Flames Go perspective. I'm actually dreading them.

Of course, all is not lost. Detroit is probably the best matchup we could've gotten, right? Nashville or Anaheim are just scary to me. But Playfair is the weakest link, again. Sorry to flog this dead horse, but when I agree with Ray "Duh-Wayne" Ferraro something is truly wrong. And yesterday, all curled up on my couch with a security blanket and the NHL on NBC on the screen, Ray Ferraro made a comment I agreed with: Jim Playfair has looked uptight the past few weeks and that's carried over on to the team. I pulled the blanket over my head and groaned. Jim Playfair, the nail-biting, tooth-picking, nervous nelly of a rookie coach is the clear weakest link of a team that's killer on paper.

As far as I'm concerned, the Flames will be out in the first round. I'm not usually a downer, but this just seem that way to me. It's always better to lower expectations and be pleasantly surprised than to raise them and be devastated, right? Truth be told, so long as Vancouver makes an early exit I'll still enjoy this season. But we've only got about one more year with this lineup to win a cup, and I'm hoping we're going to get a coach that unleashes the potential that our team has. What's Brent Sutter up to these days?

I'll be at Sunday afternoon's game in Detroit, by the way.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Bless you, Nashville

Somebody buy that team a solid chocolate Easter bunny.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Red Phone

Ring. The battered red phone hidden in the corner was definitely getting more strident.

The dressing room was dead silent, except for a muttered, "Oh, shit."

Finally, the coach picked up the phone. "Hello?"

The voice on the other end was female. And not amused. "Jimmy."
"You know who this is, right?"
"That's right. I used this to bawl Darryl out last year."
"Ooooh. I remember."
"I got results, didn't I?"
"That you did." Then a whisper. "Dear mother of God help me."
"Well. You're lucky. I'm too damn tired to bawl you out right now." A pause. "BUT."
"You're out of excuses. Not against this team, not with what you have on the line. Are we clear?"
"Good. Now, shut up, and find a tie that doesn't hurt my eyes so much. And gather the boys 'round the line."
"Stop that. Now. You don't want me to force you to go golfing in April. You really don't. What have I been telling you to do all year?"
"Keep trying harder!"
A voice pipes up. "You keep on telling us to have no mercy on the other team, to show some killer instinct, and to stomp on them. Preferably on the jugular."
"DING! Somebody give that guy a prize! That said, Jarome, next time I don't want to hear you smile when you say that. You don't have a sense of humour till you can show me Oilers a la roadkill. Got that?"
"Yes, ma'am."
"Trust me on this. Only thing worse this time of year than a tee time is a flight to Europe. A very long, contemplative flight where you get to think about all the screwups this season."
"God, no."
"So you don't want that to happen, you kill off the Avs with this next game, ok?"
"Yes, ma'am."
"And what about the rest of you boys? Jarome was off to a good start last game, where the hell were the rest of you?"
"Happy Easter, by the way. Just don't forget we're celebrating the anniversary of somebody getting nailed up on a cross. Capiche?"

Dead silence in the room. Just the sound of guys gulping. Hard.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Deja Vu

The Flames must surely realize by now that we're all going to do our best imitations of broken records until they finally get that damn point, we clinch a playoff spot, and then start getting ready for the real games.

I haven't felt all that engaged with hockey this week, and the calm reactions of many, many people I've talked to, in reaction to what was a flat, embarrassing game the other night confirm what I suspect: we're all waiting for them to get on with it. Either that, or we've been too damn busy planning the night we'll all meet each other, slated for later this weekend.

So. Tonight isn't ideal, exactly, to get on with it. San Jose isn't really one of my favourite teams to play when I'm looking for points in a hurry. Their big lines are clicking again, their goalies are getting over the hiccup that was the couple of months after the All-Star game.

But hey, if we're going to get that point? Why not tonight? All in all, tonight should be a good indication of how far we'll go come playoff time. Road game, tough opponent, stuff on the line. Let's see if we can bring it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Predictable (Colorado Post-Game)

For fear of stirring the wrath of HG, I kept my doubts about last night's game private. To a colleague of mine, I predicted a Sakic hattrick because that guy was simply too talented and too proud to miss the playoffs. I was close: he got four points.

I will also confess to not watching this game. I've got some reasons: I was doubtful of a Flames victory (sure, I'm a bad fan), and watching the Flames lose pisses me right off. I also had a long day at work. But more importantly, I had just acquired Guitar Hero II for the yeah, I had's boxscore up while I rocked out like an idiot.

That said, I'm not overly concerned. I'm sure we'll make the playoffs, and if we don't, I'm sure Playfair will be fired...either way, I'll be a happy camper.

But I'm mostly upset about my recent lack of enthusiasm. There's lots of good hockey left but I think I've resigned myself to an early playoff exit based on the ineptitude of the Flames head coach, and I don't think that's fair to the team. But life isn't fair, I 'spose...

Monday, April 2, 2007

Finish them!

Doubtless this is the highest of the high points to date this season.

Wins on the road? Check.
Wins on the road with a shootout? Check.
Wins on the road while coming from behind? Check.
Wins on the road against playoff-capable teams? Check.

Definitely there's nothing wrong with our offence. We're not dependent on a handful of players to do their thing anymore - these are arguably the most productive and complete four lines the Flames have put out there in years and years. Our defense? Still shaky at times, but with Hale and Stuart there and Zyuzin behaving, it's starting to look on the ice the way it was supposed to look on paper. And goaltending. No question, Kipper is at the form we need him to be in playoffs. He's the big human Gumby we all know and love.

So there's really only one more mission for the boys this season, before they start getting ready for the playoffs. That would be of course, to lock down a playoff berth.

And it so happens that we've got Colorado all lined up, tied to the post, blindfolded, cigarette in mouth. Question is, can we pull the trigger?

Do it guys, do it!