DemocraThree: 17 January 2014

by J.R.

demothree

Today, we debut a new weekly feature here at III Communication — DemocraThree. Every Friday, bloggers from around The Heptarchy will update us on the news and notes from their teams (with that fancy header image courtesy of Mike D and like democracy itself, it’s a perpetual work-in-progress). Yes, we ripped this off from TRH’s Pacific War Room; no, we don’t care. And since we ripped it off, we’ll follow their lead and go in standings order.

Chicago Blackhawks
Cheer The Anthem‘s Mike Devine
@brightblack76

Bicks Redacted

This week has seen the Hawks win a game in Regulation (for the first time in 2014) sandwiched between two OT losses. They deserved to lose in Montreal as the Habs played their best game of the season, then made hard work of disposing of the wretched Oilers before dropping a point,after comprehensively thumping the Avs,  but being unable to convert on approximately 189,064 chances. The Power Play is in the toilet and the PK gave  away yet more goals. On the plus side, Hawks fans have lost patience with our halfwit broadcast duo. On the negative side, Joel Quenneville is suggesting that Bryan Bickell lacks confidence; meanwhile continuing to bench him for no good reason. This hiccup in form has, of course, got the Mouth-Breathing element out in force and the Annual Suggestion that “DA HOCKS SHUD GET DAT STEVE OTT GUY”. For those of us that enjoy Incredible Stupidity, we also have famous Eklund-Lite idiot John Jaeckel hinting that Stan Bowman is going to send Teravainen, Bickell, a 1st Round Pick, all his family videos and his wife’s sweet embrace to Winnipeg for Andrew Ladd. However, we feel that there is a very good chance that Stan Bowman can offer Dave Nonis “Stanley Cup Winning 2C Michal Handzus” and some stick tape for Nazim Kadri. Picture Saad-Kadri-Kane and then weep, rest of Conference III. Sometimes it’s fun to fantasise.  Luckily, the Hawks have the Ducks and Bruins up next: eastypoints, amirite?

St. Louis Blues
St. Louis Game Time‘s Tyler Atwood
@kingdonuti

Conference III’s current Title Belt-holder faced three of the Pacific Division’s top five teams. What did we learn? Not a whole lot, actually, except for what we already kinda knew . . . the Blues are allergic to the Pacific Division, especially their best teams.

Last Friday’s tilt in Vancouver was a John Tortorella special . . . hang with the opponent until the opponent is so tired of being hung with that you hang yourself. Eddie Lack also loomed large by stopping almost everything that came his way, apart for this little ditty right here. Gee, can you tell Vladimir Tarasenko is a coach’s son? Oh, whatever. The Blues lost 2-1. Let’s move on, shall we?

A flight back home and three off days later, the Blues hosted the Coyotes. This game also ended 2-1, but ended with an actual win against a decent Pacific opponent, which has been hard to come by for the Blues for some reason this year. #USABestHockey? You’re darn right. T.J. Oshie admitted after the game that the second goal should’ve gone to Jaden Schwartz, but they never changed it, and instead Oshie got both goals. Because America. Otherwise, an unremarkable contest that pretty much affirmed every assumption that a best-of-seven series between the Coyotes and Blues would be the worst thing to ever happen to this planet.

That leads us to last night . . . ummmm, yeah, about that. It was a 4-1 Kings win, with the lone Blues goal by Oshie again, because America (again) and because on the penalty shot, Jonathan Quick’s five-hole opened up bigger than that sore spot on the Team USA roster being taken by Jimmy Howard (BEN BISHOP FOR LIFE, FOOLS). Jake Muzzin may get a call from Brendan Shanahan for basically trying to decapitate Vladimir Sobotka. Jaroslav Halak did his best Jonathan Quick impersonation (ummm, in the . . . BAD way) during a Blues power play. Some good rasslin’ was had at the end of the game. It was every bit the dark suit affair that was expected, and it affirmed everything we knew about Jonathan Quick . . . he owns the Blues. Tom Stillman just THINKS he’s signing the checks.

The Blues are now 5-7-3 against the Pacific Division (2-7-2 against the California Three, Phoenix and Vancouver) heading into Saturday’s home date with the Ducks. That’s followed by an eastern swing, starting with Monday night’s tilt at [FORNICATE] Detroit, Tuesday in New Jersey and Thursday at Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers. And it’s quite possible that Alexander Steen might be back soon. Swedish meatballs for everyone!

Colorado Avalanche
The Internet’s Anthrax Jones
@anthraxjones

Not too long ago, wins over the dullards from Minnesota, the defending champs, and Lou Lamoriello’s Stepfords would’ve been a good month for the Colorado Avalanche. Now, that’s just a regular work week. Let’s commemorate three important wins with three haiku:

COLORADO 4, MINNESOTA 2

State Of Hockey? Ha
One hundred ninety six mil
Buys plenty of fail

COLORADO 3, CHICAGO 2 (OT)

Avs finish game with,
Oh, one healthy defenseman
Barrie buries Hawks

COLORADO 2, NEW JERSEY 1 (SO)

O’Reilly shoots out
Denver descendant Devils
Lamoriello’s woes

Minnesota Wild
Hockey Wilderness‘s Ger Devine
@gerdevine

The week started with a bad game on the road against the Coyotes in which the Wild were saved by a Justin Fontaine hat-trick. He made Canadian Olympian Mike Smith look terrible, sort of like that goalie who used to play for Dallas and Tampa Bay and really, really sucked. What was his name again?

The Wild had a rough time at home, losing a game they should have won against the Avalanche and getting deservedly thumped by the Senators.  The best part of the week was going to Nashville and beating them 4-0 while their fans rained boos down on Ryan Suter. Not only did the Wild salvage some #ConferenceIII pride, they also caused an all-out mutiny against David Poile and Barry Trotz. Job well done.

Dallas Stars
Defending Big D‘s David Wilson
@daveyssuitcase

Fortunately for the readers of this blog, I was unable to figure out how to transcribe the sound of me slamming my head against the desk. Otherwise this post might have consisted of nothing else.

The Stars are in full-on free fall mode at the moment. 1-7-0 since the New Year, and the lone win, against the Oilers of course, feels like nothing more than the brief hope elicited by a faulty backup parachute. We’re talking about this week though! So let’s forget that glorious 5-0-2 run the Stars closed out 2013 with, beating such contenders as the Avs, Canucks, and Kings. Twice! Then we’ll also forget that four game stretch to open the New Year, wherein the Stars lost the first four games of a long-awaited cushy stretch of 7 of 8 against Eastern Conference opponents. It’s time to focus on the past 7 days.

*David slams his head against the desk*

Perhaps the feelings of Stars’ fans were best encapsulated by Dan Ellis on Sunday:

Only without the accompanying cuteness of an Ali Lawrence pony.

Coming off a 1-0 ‘this is how hockey should not be played’ loss to the Devils, the Stars began this week with a game in New York. And yes, the DemocrThree week begins on a Friday. Go with it. The Stars took the lead twice against the Rangers, but gave it back each time, such nice boys, and then, just as we were all settling in for overtime and a possible coin flip to determine the winner, the Stars allowed the game winning goal with under two minutes left. Sunday the Stars returned to Dallas and took a 2-0 first period lead over the Islanders. But apparently the Stars just can’t have nice things, as the Islanders netted the tying goal with under 5 minutes remaining in the game, and then, not content with sharing a Bettman point with the Stars, they then had the audacity to score again. And again. Most teams don’t lose games 4-2 after being up 2-1 with 5 minutes left in regulation. I present to you the 2014 Dallas Stars.

*David slams his head against the desk*

There was of course the curious phenomenon of a Dallas Stars victory on Tuesday. But as the Stars stood around poking the carcass of the Oilers and wondering if it would make a good trophy over the mantel, the Bruins swept into town and swept out again with two points.

Yes. Another loss to an East Coast team. Not to brag or anything, but in the last two weeks the Stars have single-handedly redressed the balance between the Eastern and Western Conferences. No mean feat.

Nashville Predators
III Communication‘s J.R. Lind
@jrlind

First off, Dubstep — meet Tim McGraw.

God, I’m sorry about that.

The Preds’ week started bad, but got better. Saturday, they lost in a shootout to Ottawa (courtesy of Mika Zibanejad, who is currently filling Ottawa’s Perpetually Misspelled Player roster spot with Jacob Silfverberg now in Anaheim) because of course they did, but Mike Fisher scored a goal, which was nice, because — and I’m not exaggerating here — the Bytown media got to Nashville two days early to talk to him (and, you know, spend their loonies at Tootsie’s).

That set up what promised to be two spectacularly boring games against the Fightin’ Adjectives Sunday and Brian Burke’s Band of Truculent Albertans Tuesday. The boos, as they do, rained down on Ryan Suter, which is fun, except in most Minnesota-Nashville games, spectators will want to preserve their air so as to avoid passing out from a combination of low heart rate and oxygen deprivation and dying of exposure. The Wild were all over the Preds from the get-go and Dany Heatley turned into 2007 Dany Heatley and blah blah. My family left early, which has happened exactly zero times before, because the poor baby couldn’t even sleep (as she’s done in boring games in past) because babies can sense anger and there were 15,000 announced and 9,000 actual angry Nashvillians around her.

Tuesday games against Calgary are the standard by which all boring Nashville games are judged. So pervasive is this reputation that tickets were readily available, as people found other things to do Tuesday night, like watch Joe Kenda re-runs. But, lo and behold, did this one surprise. The teams combined for six goals — breaking the old Flames-Preds record by five — and the Preds power play (which is a top-10 unit in the NHL, a fact which literally zero people believe) struck twice and David Legwand had three assists while sitting on the bench for my fantasy team, which just as improbably as the Preds having one of the league’s better power plays, is currently third, despite making regular use of David Legwand.

Then came the off day, the Dubnyk trade — enjoy Matt Hendricks being four feet behind every play, Edmonton! — and a trip to Philly.

Hey, did you know Shea Weber signed an offer sheet in Philly? Did you know he had a goal and two assists last night? Did you know the Predators are allowed to win a shootout (but only if they use defensemen, apparently)? Did you see Carter Hutton do this?

Winnipeg Jets
JetsNation‘s Ross Smith
@EBHeater

Oh, hello there, America! Greetings from Jets Nation! No, not the football one, the other one. Look up, way up above you, practically in the tundra… there you go. That’s me, waving to you! I’m fairly certain no one named Sanchez has ever been affiliated with hockey or Winnipeg but I am certain that this nation has just about as much to celebrate as our NFL cousins.

Need a primer for the 2013/14 Winnipeg Jets? Here’s what we’ve got: A grab bag of fairly talented players, both all-seasoned and rookie flavor, supplemented with a few bags of sand on skates, shaky goaltending and a coach who from the outset seemed puzzled, cranky and frustrated about how to made gold out of lead, especially in a new conference where the opposition was going to be about 28 degrees more difficult. That’s degrees of difficulty as measured in Celsius – cold, downright cold. We in the peanut gallery have been watching the wheels nearly coming off for four months and yet the twist ties holding those wheels to the axle just won’t break! In the central division the Jets are a go-cart amongst Indy cars. If that metaphor came to life as a video on YouTube, you’d be, like us, perversely riveted.
And this week? What a week to begin our reportage from the Conference III Northern Bureau! We have a former forward once recast as a defensemen now resuming the role of forward, Coach Noel The Flummoxed has been replaced with Coach Maurice The Bold or At Least Temporarily Adequate and the Jets are on a two game win streak (yes, we’re calling it a streak, we’re allowed our illusions) after a dismal run of folly wherein fans and press alike called for the heads of just about anyone on skates in southern Manitoba. We were ready to ship our best players out the door based on… I’m not sure what but the March 5 trade deadline is coming fast so we won’t have to wait long to see if more shake-ups are in store. With the team edging perilously close to playoff irrelevance, it will be interesting to see whether the arrival of Maurice is an attempt to build towards the future or make a desperate run at 8th seed. The go-cart may yet spin out into an apocalyptic crash: Ladd, Wheeler, Kane and Byfuglien all traded for additional bags of sand, the Red River erupting into flame and Siren Atlanta calling all her wayward Thrashers home to drown in a vat of cola. Winnipeg settles for moose instead of airplanes and maybe that’s all the city ever really deserved. Nah! Getting foamy-mouthed about hockey is almost more of a Canadian national sport than the sport itself. Go Jet ‘em!