Oblivious

June 18, 2011

Sometime around the age of six I began to grow self-aware — realizing that the things I said and did reflected on my identity and how others perceived me.

As I grew older, that self-awareness (really nothing more than an understanding that your actions and words are logically linked to your person) grew into a pretty normal and robust sense of self criticism.

I’m sure this is fairly standard and across-the-board; most people have the ability to judge their actions and words and overall public persona before they act, speak, or leave the house in the morning wearing nothing but a sock. It’s like looking in the mirror, and in the world of online publishing/blogging, it’s that nagging, sometimes unidentifiable, feeling of dread you get before you click the “Publish” button.

‘Something’s wrong, I don’t know what it is, but I better wait and think about this. Something about this post is just bad, it’ll come to me later.’

That’s what a lot of us do; and then sometime after you eat dinner and come back to it you realize you’ve just written an otherwise innocently intended series of what you once thought were logical comments but ended up saying ‘Hitler was awesome’ or something stunning like that.

Then you click delete, and never speak of it again to anyone. (This is the same reason why it should be a criminal offense to publish a deceased author’s notes, scribblings or drafts without their prior permission).

Then there’s this guy.

After the Game 7 riot in Vancouver, he actually sat down and wrote an article a childish-note telling Vancouver fans that rioting is bad, and that they need to “grow up.”

As you can probably guess, it was fantastic:

…what happened after Game 7 simply is unacceptable, you ruthless Vancouverites…

…Uh, hello? Vancouver? This is the voice inside your head calling—it’s only a game…

All these notions of rioting being un-Canadian have just been tossed in the Pacific Ocean where it unfortunately now belongs.

As an Anaheim Ducks supporter, we would not stoop as low as this tripe. What we do is grab our keys, start our engines and drive back to our own lives. Some of us commute back.

That’s what you could have done, Vancouver…

It goes on, and it’s all stunning.

Where we would be without this masterpiece of moral navigation is anyone’s guess.

Dear Idiots: A Very Vancouver Canucks Autopsy

June 17, 2011

Forty-eight hours have passed since the Vancouver Canucks slipped quietly into the night and the city exploded into a kaleidoscope of chaos, and already the team has been dissected, eulogized and buried a few thousand times by a few hundred thousand people.

So, naturally, here’s one more take.

If you head to some of the more casual witless corners of the internet, the Vancouver Canucks lost Game 7 because of karma: Aaron Rome perpetrated the most heinous act in the history of hockey, every Canuck player dove on every single play and never for any legitimate reason, Roberto Luongo said a handful of words about Tim Thomas, Daniel Sedin failed to come out and say he honestly felt the Canucks would lose Game 7, and, most fantastically, because the city rioted:

With the example they set, is it any wonder there were some fans among them reveling in the destruction they wrought on their city?

Brilliance, it’s a quality rarely understood by those who are not. And I must be not.

But when we put our brains to at least an ounce of uneducated use we can identify three main causes of death, which compounded onto one another and exponentially impacted the on-ice product that this team was capable of mustering: injuries, an inert power play, and goaltending.

(Notice the lack of things which require a writer to construct his or her own narrative, and which may or may not be attached to what can actually be found in reality — see “Roberto Luongo said,” et al.).

None are legitimate “excuses” unto themselves, but together… well together they form a grand apparatus of grim and unavoidable failure.

It’s actually sort of a wonder they made it to Game 7 at all.

Injuries

Every team battles them, and the Boston Bruins were no different, but let’s put this into proper context: The 2011 Stanley Cup Finals pitted the high-mobility, high-skill, high-speed Vancouver Canucks up against the simple and hard-working “designed to withstand heavy impact” Boston Bruins.

One, a team dependent on a quick puck-movement speed game to win; the other, a team dependent on a “stop everything and wait” game to win.

As the series found it’s legs, the Vancouver Canucks were without Mikael Sameulsson, Dan Hamhuis and Manny Malhotra.

Playing at half-mast were Ryan Kesler (groin tear, hip problem), Henrik Sedin (back problems since Round 1), Chris Higgins (broken foot since Round 2), Christian Ehrhoff (shoulder, since Round 3, may require surgery), and Alex Edler (back, since Round 1).

As the series wore on, all of those same injuries (logically) grew worse, and were joined by Mason Raymond’s broken back, Alex Edler’s two broken fingers (same hand), Kevin Bieksa’a bruised MCL (from a Peverely two-handed slash behind the play, and behind Bieksa’s back — “Stay classy Boston”), Sami Salo’s (rumored) groin and Andrew Albert’s something-undisclosed.

All totaled: 12 skaters (of 18 a game) with injuries which extended beyond the simple confines of “pain management.” These were physically hindering injuries for a team which was never designed to play win a “gut it out” style of game, driven by brute force instead of efficient, surgical skill.

The power-play

The Boston Bruins are not without their credit here; they smelled blood and took full advantage, like a bear in the woods with a [reference deleted].

As the second major cause of death (a stunningly inert power-play) began to become dangerously self-aware, the end was turning into a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Boston Bruins knew that they could pulverize and antagonize with impunity — accelerating the individual effects of injury, solidifying their already suffocating team defense with extra liberties and interferences, and taking advantage of an overwhelming Vancouver frustration level.

Official reports are sketchy, but this is (roughly) around the time when Alain Vigneault dropped his pants and bent over, never to be seen or heard from again as a “man in control.” As was stated here previously:

…facing a red-hot, confident goaltender, and a Norris-finalist defenceman with the wingspan and brute strength of a large and unnameable dinosaur, the Canucks decided to try their hand at unleashing a torrent of weak, patient, and long, peripheral point-shots with very little traffic in front or anyone doing fly-bys

That statement was in reference to the offense as a whole, but it applies nicely to the power-play specifically as well.

From Game 1 to Game 7 the Canucks power-play defied Darwin, refusing to adapt or evolve and instead only reinforcing it’s own inadequacies.

Goalletting

We’ll say only this: The Vancouver Canucks were not going to win any series against any team scoring 8 goals in 7 games. And they weren’t going to win any games 0-0, despite their best efforts at doing so in Games 1 and 5. And if it weren’t for Roberto Luongo in those same games, they wouldn’t even have won 1-0 anyways.

So there’s all that.

But then there’s Game’s 3, 4 and 6, wherein the Luongo-backed Canucks were outscored five-hundred and something to it-doesn’t-really-matter-at-all-now-does-it.

There’s two schools of thought: Roberto can’t be blamed because his team didn’t score, and Roberto can be blamed because he let in a few a fuckin’ shitload of bad terrible goals aircraft carriers.

But here we can propose a unique third school of thought: Luongo is taking flak for the embarrassment of defeat, and not necessarily the defeat itself, which most are now conceding was probably unavoidable when you don’t score anyways.

The rest of the summer will be filled with blame, with most or all of landing on the face of Roberto Luongo, and as the ten million dollar man that’s entirely fair. But as the goaltender for a team which refused to score, and as the goaltender for a coach who made zero adjustments to a struggling power play, and as the goaltender for a team and defense that was broken and battered, it’s also not entirely fair, in that he’ll be held to account for why he didn’t steal Game 3, 4 or 6, rather than simply giving them away entirely.

Though he did really gave those ones away. As the face of disaster and the only player left on the team in a position to miraculously make the series closer than it otherwise should of been, Luongo (for better or worse) is one of the three major causes of death.

* * *

In the end it might not have mattered.

Luongo stole Games 1 and 5 and the Canucks were still in danger of losing those as well. He’s being blamed for embarrassment, for blowouts, rather than for the binary win-loss result — which might surely have been the same regardless.

The Boston Bruins were the better team, the Vancouver Canucks the more broken one — the team which made zero adjustments to its safety net power-play, and the one whose goaltender only stole two, maybe three games, and was certainly nowhere close to a fourth, giving the rest away like he’d been slipped a roofie at a frat party.

Breakdown of breakdowns: The Breakdown

June 16, 2011

Much has happened since the last post on this blog, which never really got off the ground to begin with at all — but which will surely become more active now that there’s far less interesting things to talk about:

The Vancouver Canucks took a 2-0 stranglehold lead in the series and won the Stanley Cup in all but official record and circumstance; the Boston Bruins scored 89 goals over the next 2 games to wipe that stranglehold lead away; Roberto Luongo converted himself to Nomadism and began preparing for his summer internship as a Stanley Park tour guide; grown men with professional media credentials were pushed to the brink of all they could bear with the horrid and debasing techniques employed by the “classless” and “sack-less” Vancouver “players;” the Canucks were written off and buried alive by everyone except avid-Bruins supporter Don Cherry; the Canucks won Game 5 by a score of 1-0 on a bad and very lucky goal which barely beat Tim Thomas and were thus once again labelled an “unstoppable team of destiny,” wherein they won the Stanley Cup for the second time in less than a week; they were then drawn and quartered alive as Boston scored another 89 goals in Games 6 and 7 and, as the classier team, mystically and magically won the Stanley Cup — a trophy universally revered for its uncanny ability to foist itself into the clutches of only the most sportsmanlike players in the history of professional sports, hence it’s passage into the hands of angelic Boston, and saved from the claws of demonic Vancouver.

Then we let bygones be bygones and the after-party rocked well into the night.

As can be gleaned from the fanatical fallout, it was an emotional and cathartic experience for a particular brand of societal losers, a small majority of whom quickly turned their collective efforts toward the real enemies of the series: windows, trucks, smart cars, each other, and civic pride.

On the ice, the Canucks were beaten by the team with less blood in their stool.

The bigger and badder and classier Bruins embraced their own inferiority of skillset, and recommitted themselves to a punishing routine of banging, crashing, and two-handed slashing. Knowing that in a war of attrition they would emerge victorious, the Bruins dug their trenches and, curiously, the Canucks hopped right on in with them — face first, and with all the pins pulled from the grenades still stuck to their ammo belts.

It was a bold strategy.

As the series wore on and it became apparent that Bruins hockey was hashtag-trending on the ice and everywhere else, the Canucks made the necessary adjustments: facing a red-hot, confident goaltender, and a Norris-finalist defenceman with the wingspan and brute strength of a large and unnameable dinosaur, the Canucks decided to try their hand at unleashing a torrent of weak, patient, and long, peripheral point-shots with very little traffic in front or anyone doing fly-bys.

Again, it was a bold strategy, one adopted some time around Game 4, and one which failed in more epically cataclysmic fashion with each waning period.

Boldly, the Canucks and their coaching staff stayed true to themselves and their plan and, with mounting injuries of a crippling and offensively debilitating nature, stayed the course — the one which demanded they abandon their skill game, and press on with the physically demanding rigors of an increasingly low-percentage game which none of them felt they could successfully employ to begin with.

“Down with the ship.”

“But sir, the ship is beached.”

“Scuttle the ship!”

By the end of it all the Canucks had been outscored something-thousand to 8, lost the series, and sparked the violent libidos of a few hundred young evolutionary dead-ends and biological inadequacies.

To a man, they will tell you there are no excuses, but fair is fair, and to a man, the Canucks were beat, battered, broken, and gassed.

They gave it their all, and in the end they simply had nothing left. The litany of injuries will ebb and flow and swell with the march of time and mythology, but already we know that Ehrhoff was playing with macaroni for a shoulder, Kesler with at least two “speed-holes” in his groin, Edler with a fistful of firewood for a left or right hand, Higgins with a broken foot, Hamhuis with a something-unplaythroughable, Raymond with a broken back, Henrik with one leg, Malhotra with one eye…

…And Vigneault with no play-book.

The Bruins were no doubt injured and battered as well, but their style of game — pound it, kill it, eat it — was just flat out more conducive to slogging through pain issues than the Canucks’ requirement of high mobility, high speed, and high skill to win them games.

Before the series began, it was apparent that the Canucks best chance was blitzkreig — lightning warfare and victory in the first 4 or 5 games, anything after that and advantage sways to Boston. In the end, advantage swayed to the always classy Bruins long before Games 4 or 5 or 6 or 7, but give the Canucks credit: broken and limping and gasping, they dragged their own dying carcass as far as they could, just shy of the shallow grave the Bruins had finished digging for them far in advance.

It was a great season, a great playoffs, and a dirty, terrible, and gutsy badass hate-filled Finals of total crap which was entertaining in a grisly sideshow from Hell kind of way.

The Vancouver Canucks, losers in eyes of official history only, are champions in the hearts of a city that knows how to tip their hats their cars.

R.I.P. 2010-11 Vancouver Canucks, President’s Trophy winners, Western Conference Champions, Tim Thomas stat-padders.

You’ll be missed.


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