Monday, June 8, 2009

Awkward Quotes and Flip Flopping...

Before I get into the swing of things, I have to present you with today's horrendously out of context quote, courtesy of our very own Mike Babcock. When asked to comment on Helm's play during this playoff run, he had this to say:
"He’s so thick. He’s so hard on his stick, and he keeps coming."
I know, I cringed too...before I started giggling. And, yes, I know that as a member of a population demographic not labeled 'teenage boy,' I shouldn't have such a gutter mind, but it is what it is and it gets me through the day. So anyway, apologies to Babs and Helm, because I love them both dearly and have all of the respect in the world. It's just...so awkward. It's like Tobias Funke wrote it.

Moving on...

There wasn't a whole lot going on today, on account of the fact that there was no hockey on. I know it hasn't been that long, but it seriously feels like it's been a week since Game 5. Granted, the fact that I spend most of my time online reading various hockey blogs probably doesn't help time pass any more quickly, but I just want it to be 8pm Tuesday. Objectively, I know that the extra day is fantastic in terms of getting guys like Datsyuk, Cleary, Rafalski, and Draper healthier. That does very little to ease my stress, though.

The thing that I've found most interesting/absurd about this series is the absolute reversals in media attitudes that have occurred after each and every game. Coming into the series, it seemed like the consensus was that the Pens' were destined to win, what with their extra year of experience and maturity and the Wings' troublesome injuries. After the Wings won Game 1, the general assessment was that they stole a game thanks to lucky bounces and the springy boards at the Joe, but it didn't mean much. Then they went out and won Game 2, as well. Once they were up 2-0 in the series, all of the pundits were ready to hand them their rings and crown them as a dynasty. When Pittsburgh tied up the series, all you heard was how old and tired the Wings were and how it was inevitable that the Pens would be hoisting the Cup (Yeah, typing that sentence made me gag a little bit.). Next thing you know, the NHL poster children got owned, courtesy of the Wings' powerplay, and once again, everybody's on the Wings bandwagon acting like they never doubted their ability and drive. I'm not used to seeing this level of flip-flopping unless I'm watching a Presidential campaign.

It would piss me off, because I'm one of those "stubborn" people who stands by my words, but it's actually a sad indictment of how little the mainstream media types actually know about hockey. I understand that it can be difficult to write about things with which you're not familiar. There's a reason I'm writing this blog about hockey and not designer clothes and celebrity gossip. It would just be nice to see a little effort on the part of the people who get paid to analyze the game. Starting with, say, actually watching a regular season game or three so as to have a working understanding of the basics of the game.

The best example of this is the writing of Helene Elliot of the LA Times. After Game 4, she had this to say:
"The Penguins looked fresh and energetic. The Red Wings, playing their fifth game in nine nights -- and facing a sixth in 11 nights Saturday when the finals return to Detroit -- looked like their fathers and older uncles. ... Detroit center Henrik Zetterberg, who had shut Crosby down so effectively in the first few games, was just another bearded guy out there Thursday, as helpless to stop Crosby as any fan sitting at home sentenced to watch Versus' telecast of this magnificent and potentially power-tilting performance. ... The Red Wings, as a team, may be running out of time. That's another gut feeling."
Ouch. So I guess Pittsburgh's going to win then? Not so fast. Her recap of Game 5:
"Revived by a day's rest and the return of Pavel Datsyuk, the Red Wings reduced the Penguins to a bunch of petulant 2-year-olds Saturday while moving to within one victory of claiming the Stanley Cup for the second successive season. ... Waah! Sergei Gonchar slashed Datsyuk, went to the box and watched Niklas Kronwall whip a shot past a befuddled Marc-Andre Fleury at 6:11 for a 3-0 lead.
Waah! Postseason scoring leader Evgeni Malkin, rendered invisible by Detroit's relentless defensive efforts, elbowed Johan Franzen into the glass and got a penalty-box view of Brian Rafalski rifling the puck off the left post and in at 8:26.
Waah! Top-line left wing Chris Kunitz was sent off for roughing Darren Helm, and Henrik Zetterberg made him pay with a shot from the right circle at 15:40, Detroit's final goal and the last shot seen by Fleury before he was replaced by former King Mathieu Garon. ... Ready to play with the grown-ups? Or to be sent back to the sandbox?"
I realize that that was an excessively long excerpt, but I had to include all of the "Waahs." They kind of drew me in like watching a trainwreck or starting at roadkill and I couldn't look away.

We're not talking about the Super Bowl here, where the winner of one game takes all. This is a sport that requires a team to win four out of seven games to get the Cup. And along the way, there are ups and downs. There are good games and bad. And those of us who are true fans know that it means absolutely nothing until one team reaches that elusive 16th victory.

On a more local front, Drew Sharp continued on his quest to make me never pick up the Freep again. He keeps harping on the inevitability of a Game 7 in this series. While I don't deny that it's a distinct possibility, it's the last thing I want a hometown reporter writing about.

The Freep also ran an article discussing potential Conn Smythe winners, which I steadfastly refused to read. Did they learn nothing from Drew Sharp's headline during the Western Conference Finals?

I was also disappointed to hear that JoeVision had been banned. First the Mellon parties, and now this? God forbid we let the fans have a little fun. NBC's spokesperson released a quote about the business side of the decision, where revenues are based on ratings. I get that. I do. But what they don't understand is that Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals isn't like the series finale of ER. For major sporting events, people go out to bars to watch the game. Or they gather at a friends house. Most folks aren't meeting their friends at the bar to catch the latest episode of The Office. And the people who would've gone to JoeVision probably aren't going to stay home with their little Nielsen boxes recording every remote click that they make. They're going to leave their TVs off and head over to the Hockeytown Cafe or some other gathering place. Not to mention that the revenues from ticket sales were to be donated to charity.

I realize that I have a sentimental attachment to JoeVision since it was where I watched the Wings hoist the Cup last year. While I probably would've had a better view of the game sitting at home on my couch, I wasn't there for an HD broadcast or widescreen TV. I was there to celebrate a Wings victory with a bunch of total strangers. I'll never forget standing in the seats with confetti raining down on me from the rafters just soaking in the atmosphere. No joke, I was still picking flecks of red and white metallic stuff out of my hair a week later. I'm pretty sure there's still some of it stuck in my carpet. But I digress. Instead, I'll be at Hockeytown, in the City Theater, which makes me slightly nervous due to the fact that it was the venue in which I watched Game 5 of the Finals last year.

The bottom line today? The Wings need to win tomorrow. As long as this two day break has seemed, just imagine how epically long the wait until Friday would be. I'm not even going to discuss the other reasons why this is a must-win game. They go without saying, and are much too terrible to imagine.

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