Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Backhander: Karlsson vs. Subban... Gryba vs. Wiercioch... Twitter vs. Bob Cole... Me vs. Predictions

Some reputations outlast reality. Glenn Healy calling Erik Karlsson a “one-trick pony” only tells us that Healy doesn’t watch Ottawa enough to know how much better Karlsson is in his own zone since his rookie season. It’s a snide remark from a legendary Sens baiter. Still, the guy is paid to have strong opinions and that’s what he gives us. I have no problem with that. It’s just that his tone is always so condescending that viewers immediately get their backs up. He could be talking about saving kittens from a flood and he’d still piss half the audience off. But you do have to give Hockey Night In Canada some credit. They go out of their way to provide a whole cast of characters that run the gamut from pleasantly wholesome (Elliotte Friedman) to stiff and exacting (Scott Oake) to grouchy (Healy) to analytical (Craig Simpson) to bratty (P.J. Stock) to Don Cherry, who is his own adjective. HNIC is still the best hockey show on the planet and remains vital, despite being everyone’s go-to punching bag. Holding it all together, often barely, is Ron MacLean who just gets better every year....

.... Speaking of HNIC, I understand why some people don’t appreciate Bob Cole calling Senators hockey games. I lived through the Battle Of Ontario years where it seemed like there was a Toronto bias on HNIC and I don’t claim Cole to be perfect every night. But there’s something truly sickening about seeing the man being defamed on Twitter in so many nasty, cowardly ways. For one, the man is a Hall Of Fame broadcaster and devoted his entire life to the game these clowns claim to love. Two, you wouldn’t say that to his face so why is it okay to say it publicly on Twitter? It’s gutless. It’s one thing to complain about Cole and his call of the game, but it’s another to attack him personally. You have to wonder about people who say things like that in a public forum. Unfortunately we’ll be seeing a lot of people wading in the gutter with Cole set to call the Sens-Habs first-round series.....

.... It will be interesting to see who coach Paul MacLean plays as his 6th defensman - Eric Gryba or Patrick Wiercioch. I like both rookies quite a bit but would probably lean towards Gryba myself in a playoff situation. Montreal seems to have a lot of those small, aggravating forwards that could be leaned on by a big guy like Gryba, but then you’re giving up a little offensive potential by sitting Wiercioch who had a pretty good first season. If Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar stay healthy, I’d like to see Gryba in there to give more of a balance but I wouldn’t be surprised either way..... If there’s one player who’s happier to play the Habs than the Bruins, it’s Kyle Turris. He’s taken a beating all year from big defensemen and has had trouble carrying the burden of Jason Spezza as the playmaker for this team. Not that the Habs defense is soft, but there’s a big difference going up against Zdeno Chara, Adam McQuaid and Dougie Hamilton than it is facing Andrei Markov, Raphael Diaz and Josh Gorges. Although Jarred Tinordi, all 6’6 205 pounds of him, was brought up from the AHL recently and could be a factor. That being said, there still won’t be any room out there. This is the playoffs after all, where real estate is more expensive than downtown Manhattan....

..... A scary thought for Ottawa must be the fact they’ve made a lot of average goalies look like world-beaters this season. Now they have to go up against Carey Price who really is a world-beater when he’s running hot, which is often. He had some major struggles down the stretch but I don’t buy that he’ll be a weakness..... I have no doubt P.K. Subban will be enemy #1 in Ottawa before this playoff round is through. Some say Brendan Gallagher will claim that crown, but Subban just has that air of cockiness about him that both endears him to Montreal fans and drives everyone else crazy. He’s having an incredible year after that contract mess to start off and he’s a natural rival to Erik Karlsson, and will be for years to come in the competition for the Norris Trophy. This could turn into one of the best rivalries in the league, especially with the new divisional playoff format coming next season. These two teams, with Karlsson and Subban not going anywhere for a while, could conceivably meet up, by hook or by crook, somewhere along the way to the Eastern crown for the next five or six years. Get ready for a memorable first meeting.

Random Ottawa Playoff Stats

Of Ottawa’s Top 10 all-time playoff scoring leaders, the first 7 of them are still playing in the NHL this season, and 6 of them are currently in the playoffs with their various teams (although Dany Heatley is out with shoulder surgery for Minnesota). The only player in the top 7 whose team missed the post-season is Nashville’s Mike Fisher.... Wade Redden is still third all-time in both games played and points for Ottawa.... Anton Volchenkov wasn’t much of a goal-scorer but he’s tied with Jason Spezza, Alexei Yashin and Todd White for 7th all-time in game winning goals with 2. Not bad company there. And there’s Redden again in 3rd place with 4 game-winners.

Prediction Time

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh vs. NY Islanders
Pittsburgh in 5

Montreal vs. Ottawa
Ottawa in 7

Washington vs. NY Rangers
Washington in 6

Boston vs. Toronto
Boston in 7

Western Conference

Chicago vs. Minnesota
Chicago in 5

Anaheim vs. Detroit
Anaheim in 7

Vancouver vs. San Jose
San Jose in 6

Los Angeles vs. St. Louis
Los Angeles in 4


Eastern Champs: Pittsburgh

Western Champs: Anaheim

Stanley Cup Champs: Pittsburgh

Conn Smythe: Evgeni Malkin

Playoff Leading Scorer: Evgeni Malkin


dzuunmod said...

Honestly, I don't know why Cole is calling our series. Everyone - Montreal fans, Ottawa fans and Toronto fans - would have been much happier with him working Toronto-Boston and someone other than Dean Brown (who obviously would have upset Hab fans) working Montreal-Ottawa.

Anonymous said...

HNIC is the best sports production on TV, in my opinion. They set the bar for everyone else.

Count me in the group that likes Bob Cole. I'm glad that Cole and Galley are calling the Sens/Habs series.

No doubt that Cole makes a lot of mistakes. Expect Karlsson to be called Gonchar, and Gonchar to be called Karlsson throughout the series. I don't care. The emotion in Cole's voice is like background music to important hockey games. It just fits.

As for Galley, he's the best colour guy. Love the way he breaks things down. I'm glad that HNIC views Hughson/Simpson as the top crew, that way they stick to Leaf games. I prefer Cole/Galley.

I like your predictions except I think Datsyuk and Zetterberg are on a mission to prove Detroit isn't done without Lidstrom.

Jeremy Milks said...

I like what you said about Cole being "background music to important hockey games". Couldn't have said it better myself. I'm happy Cole and Galley are calling the series too. Just feels like the playoffs when you hear Cole.

Anonymous said...

Best sports production on tv??? Do you watch any other sports on tv or any other hockey broadcasts??? Hnic is terrible!

Anonymous said...

I am with you buddy on Bob Cole..I happen to love the guy to me he is the voice of hockey I could care less if he is biased or not We in Sens land have to get a freaking thicker skin ...I am 48 I remember when Gallivan was gone and it was not the same ..to me there is no better hockey voice right now than Bob Cole..I am sure he will make mistakes but I could care less lets just worry about our team and how they do and to heck who is with us or against us..Go Sens