The conventional wisdom amongst professional hockey players is that you don’t worry about what other teams are doing, you only worry about what your team does. It’s not how they play. It’s about how we play.
Ahh, but the rest of us…we watch the other scores. If we are blessed with a hockey package, we do more than watch the scoreboard. We watch the games. I am not a religious man, but I’m pretty sure that God invented the remote control so that we could watch three hockey games at once. Now, the truth is, when the Canucks are on, I’m pretty exclusive. But I’ll probably record the Calgary and Edmonton games, use the fast-forward and have all three games taken care of by the time I pass out…uh, I mean my bed-time.
If the Canucks aren’t playing, it’s no big deal to watch two or three games at one time. Every fan knows this. There are numerous opportunities to switch back and forth. Every icing gets you switched, every off-side allows you to check, and every commercial break is a bonanza allowing access to large chunks of the other games. As Jerry Seinfeld said, woman want to know what’s on TV. Men want to know what else is on TV.
Female hockey fans are exempt from this sexist analysis.
And the pros may say they don’t worry about what other teams are doing, but of course that’s not the truth. This time of year…how can you help it? Especially in the Western conference where so little separates so many.
And sometimes, who do you cheer for? Sure it’s easy when it’s Toronto versus Columbus…easy-peasey…one of the few times of the year I’ll cheer for T.O. But what about Edmonton against Dallas? Are we so warped by our hatred for the Oil that we would cheer for Dallas? A team that is arguably more of a threat to us and our playoff aspirations. Or how about Calgary versus Minney tonight? Have we given up on chasing the Flames? Scream for Wild blood every time Jerome scores? It does get a little difficult to parse the importance of games at this time of year.
The rational part of me cheers for Calgary. The part that is naturally opposed to all things Albertan, hopes for Calgary to get buried. And I do worry about Dallas, but if they beat the Oil seven nothing, I will sleep soundly and smugly tonight. And if both those games are reversed, I’ll be satisfied with that too. Just no three pointers tonight, boys. Let’s have clean, clear-cut victories. That’s what I’ll really be cheering for.
Well, yeah and the Canucks continuing the winning streak. Cause the simple truth is, it really is more important how we play.
And as I am writing about the miracles of remote controls and the Center Ice Package, my video feed kicks out. Ah, but I am nimble for an old fart. I switch back to my Team 1040 internet feed just in time to hear Alex Burrows score. Biggest love affair the city has had with a Canuck since …well Trevor Linden. Can’t compare the two really, just the love. I’ll watch the goal on the highlights.
We get a couple of chances on our PP, but nothing too dangerous. What it does is give Ottawa some momentum on the next shift as Spezza and Heatly dominate. In the first game against the Sens, I barely heard from these guys. They were that flat then. They look like they care tonight.
And then the Sedins once again answer their critics.
Show me how many other guys can make plays like that! And some Fans(?) want to let these guys go? I like Mike Gillis, but you know those baggy old eyes opened up a bit more on that last play. And the Ottawa announcer talks about that 1999 draft. Guys like Zetterberg, the Sedins, Havlat, etc. But the truth is, most of the top twenty were huge disappointments that year. Most guys were rushed into NHL uniforms. The Sedins played in Sweden. Good for Brian Burke. A point for letting guys develop properly. We are up two.
Our second PP doesn’t look like much until Jason Smith makes a perfect deflection off a Kevin Bieksa shot. OOOPPPS! Ah well, you watch and play this game long enough you see enough own-goals to fill a picnic basket for grandma.
I’m still not comfortable even though we are up three. But we kill the Ottawa PP and the period ends with yet another Daniel Sedin scoring opportunity.
The second period begins cautiously with the only notable occurrence being an Ottawa PP…made more notable by the aforementioned Alex Burrows using his speed to get a great scoring chance. Alex and not the puck end up in the net. We kill the PP and Mats and Kesler make an appearance with a great chance but no cigar as Elliot stones them both.
And then Bieksa applies the fine tuning knob to Donovan. I said ten games ago that this is the way Kevin needs to play. He does not need to be a peacmaker and Donovan soon learns what the rest of us know. Bieksa fires missles from the point…and with his fists. But Bieksa heads to the dressing room. Ruh-roh.
And then Burrows and the Sedins strike again. I loved this line from the get go. The whole idea of having the best third line in hockey…but having the top six forward lines two men short didn‘t make any sense to me. The promotions of Kesler and Burrows may have saved the season. And the dynamic duo still play together on the PK and 4 on 4.
Speaking of the PK, any time you test a team with Dany Heatly by giving them a PP, you are playing with fire. Heatly fires a dart and gives Ottawa a reason to believe. We answer the goal by giving them another PP. I feel something tighten up in my southern region.
We kill the PP but make no mistake…this Ottawa team can score. Two things you should never do: play with fire…or use the word jiggy.
You just shouldn’t. Elliot makes a great save off Salo and…suddenly Ottawa scores again and it’s 4-2. I always think that if we can score four in the first half of the game, the other team can score four in the second half…especially teams like Ottawa. I am heartened by a late Ottawa chance with Shaun Donovan shooting wide on a two on one…a pass would have been a sure goal. Selfish plays rarely win hockey games.
The third period starts with us playing the 1-2-2. Which means we spend a lot of time in our end but Ottawa has few real chances. And when Ottawa does get the odd chance, Lou shuts the door. One save on a breakaway by Heatly has the Canuck fans in Ottawa chanting Loooouuuu. Great pass by Rutuu…
GREAT SAVE LUONGO!
I yell that a couple more times (especially on the save on former favorite Ryan Shannon) and we seem to be playing a safe game until Matty Ohlund takes the worst penalty in hockey, the inadvertent puck over the glass. Hate that penalty…even when other teams get it. We are on the PK with a little more than six minutes left. Ottawa isn’t out of it yet. But we are stellar on the PK. It looks like the Sens have chances but we tie them up consistently…and suddenly there’s two and half minutes left. Look for Elliot to leave the net…he’s out at the two minute mark and the scrambled eggs are served.
We get the slo-mo goal as Kesler and Demitra team up for the empty netter to seal the deal. The Sedin/Burrows line was great and Bob Luongo shut the door when it counted.
Sounds like a playoff recipe.