by desert dawg
I think it was Casey Stengel, the great New York Yankees Manager who uttered those famous words. Okay, you say it was Yogi Berra? Take a number and sue me.
And even though it boggles the mind to read it in cold print, the point Casey was making was true about all sports. The mental aspect of the game is what separates the winners from the losers.
Tonight the boys came out fresh off the comeback over the big red machine and for the first couple of seconds looked like they had their legs. Then Willie Mitchell over handles the puck, the fire drill starts and we end up with a penalty.
Okay let’s get settled in here for a penalty kill and then we can use our speed to take it to the Sabres. Surely they have heard about our speed by now. And…whoops, the puck is in our net.
It’s like the fighter who takes the early left hook. Shakes his head to clear it and gets ready to wade back in, when whoops, a right cross wobbles the legs, Yep, that’s right folks, puck is in the net again. Okay Sabres, maybe you didn’t get the memo about how great we are, and we understand that living in the permafrost next to the Falls you might not have access to state-of-the-art communications. So let us repeat, we are faster, we hit harder, we take no prisoners and…whoops that one went in too? Are you sure? Wasn’t there interference on that play…come one ref! But no we don’t want to go there either. Blaming everything on the refs is the domain of Dwayne Roloson and the Edmonton Oiler Fan base.
So the first period ends three nothing. Yikes, another spanking. We were out hit, out chanced and lost the majority of the face offs. The only good thing about the three Buffalo goals is that they came in the first period. We have time to come back.
The second period justifies that, because we score on an unreal shot from Kesler and YES! It’s a game again and let’s just start…whoops the Sabres pop another behind Sanford. And now the finger pointing starts as we all pick out our favourite whipping boy. Pyatt’s doing nothing. Ohlund is too slow, Big Lou would have stopped those, so Sanford is garbage blah, blah, blah
But wait folks, this is a team sport. No sense pointing fingers in a loss like this. And at this point, no sense analyzing the second half of the game. Oh, we held our own from there on in. Face-offs evened out. We started skating and hitting. But it was too little to late.
Much of the game at the elite level is mental attitude, mental toughness. The cliché in hockey is that the team playing the second night of back to back games does not get their skating legs until the second period. And that was apparent tonight. But when you leave the ice down three nothing, it’s more than just skating legs.
So how do you prepare a team for that second game.
Well, hockey is a pretty simple game played by enormously talented athletes. And the Canuck heads just weren’t in it for the first period. No sense laying individual blame here. The players as a team weren’t ready. But let’s not leave it there. The coaches job is to prepare them. Of course, the argument is that these are multi-million dollar athletes and they shouldn’t need to have the coaches prepare them. They simply must be prepared because that is what they are paid to do. But I submit that this team is not a team yet. But they are establishing a team, that much I trust. This group of individuals known as the Vancouver Canucks played like…well, like a group of individuals.
But preparing them is what the team of coaches are supposed to do, si, si si?
But then do I blame the head coach? The assistants, the video guy? The GM? Taylor Pyatt? Willie Mitchell?
For god’s sake, blame someone!!!
Well, that’s just the attitude that prevents a team from emerging. Scapegoating doesn’t produce a winning hockey team. It’s a fools game to pick individuals out in a team loss. Yes, they weren’t ready. Every person in the Canucks organization must accept some level of responsibility for that. Of course it is the GM’s job to hold them all responsible. And the owner’s job to hold the GM responsible. We already know that.
And the fan’s job? Well, in many ways, the fan’s attitude should mirror the organization.
There is no excuse for a game like tonight.
And if the slogan “We are all Canucks” has any meaning at all, then we are compelled to enforce one, and only one rule.
Losing is not acceptable.