DemocraThree: 24 January 2013

by J.R.

demothree

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

-2

Well, that was quite a week in Hawks Hockey. While we were being bombarded with dumb articles about how a slump is actually a Good Thing (which the writer must have believed, because he used the word 35 times and it felt like 350) the team went and laid an unmerciful beatdown on Anaheim just to remind those upstart Californians that Conference III is still the boss (not unlike T Murda putting those sun-dazzled, poodle-grooming smog-suckers from LA in their place). This was followed on Sunday by a repeat of the Stanley Cup Final (except it wasn’t because it was actually just a Regular Season game against the Bruins) that was on at approximately 5am Conference III time in order to let Mike Milbury defrost properly.

The Hawks brought another complete performance, although Stanley Cup Champian Brad “Definitely NOT the ‘Little Ball Of Hate’, dammit” Marchand made it interesting and it went to a shootout, which is depressingly familiar. Less familiar was the Hawks actually winning the skills contest. In the meantime some ne’er-do-wells of my acquaintance decided that we really, really needed a Twitter account that fed us all the gems from the Blackhawks Facebook Page. It’s wonderful in the sense that hitting yourself repeatedly on the head with a hammer is (it’s SOOO NICE when you stop)

Wednesday saw more old foes, with the Fraidey Cat Conference III exile Red Wings hosting the Hawks at a Joe Louis Arena that looked more like Glendale. This made me sad. Anyway, a bit of a crazy game developed and once more we went to a shootout. It went to 834 rounds and Darren Helm potted the winner. Marian Hossa scored the opening goal, which is always a nice little riposte to the Detroit cretins who boo his every move. No rest for the wicked as the Hawks went through a rapid, intense decontamination process  (In Detroit that means taking a shower with actual warm water rather than going out in the rain) and headed off to St Paul. Who says Hockey travel isn’t glamorous?

The Hawks’ tilt with the Wild was of course, all about a certain item of millinery .

And of course the Hawks ended up wearing that hat after a game that could well give the famous Blues/Preds game a run for its money in terms of Conference III rubbishness. The Wild went up by two early on and retreated into their best Lemaire impersonation. The Hawks were incredibly inept in attempting to chase the game and would have been shut out if it wasn’t for Pat Kane scoring with seconds left and Raanta pulled. Wild fans are probably really happy. Hockey fans think the Wild should replace the Golden Seals/Cleveland Barons example.

Next up is the Jets, and once the Couronne de Merde is passed to them, there’s a big old Western road trip before the Olympic break. Not a time for faint hearts.

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

When we last checked in with Conference III’s current strap-holder, they were in the middle of two games with California teams. If the Blues ever played as a member OF the Pacific Division, they would be dead in the water by December. Nonetheless, they soldiered on, because conformity is for fools. Oh, and there’s the whole “play who you’re scheduled to play” thing.

The Blues decided to take a 40-minute nap to begin Saturday’s tilt with the Anaheim Ducks. They got their teeth knocked in by the Ducks in the first period, allowing a single goal, and while they played better in the second, they spotted the Once Mighty Crew a couple more anyway (including this howler given by Brian Elliott), and so the Blues were down 3-0 after two. Lo-and-behold, they started a comeback in the third, buoyed by goals from Barret Jackman (BARRET JACKMAN!!!1) and Prince William . . . errrrr, Jaden Schwartz (no, seriously, look at a side-by-side and tell me which one’s which). But as most comebacks do, this one fell short. So the Blues lost to another California opponent, and the home crowd didn’t even get to see Teemu Selanne as apparently he’s resting in games because he’s old or something. STOP BEING OLD, TEEMU.

As for the Blues, though, there is no rest for the wicked. They flew off for an eastern road swing, starting with our old friends, the Red Wings, on Monday. Rumor has it Jimmy Howard had the flu and the runs before the game. He played about half the game, gave up three goals (Including ANOTHER GOAL BY BARRET JACKMAN HOLY JEEBUS IT’S TIME TO STOCK UP ON EVERYTHING) and then left with a “Knee Injury”. Well, I guess the [behind] is KINDA close to the knee. I had my own theories on the matter. But anyway, as is their wont, the Blues dominated the puck and pretty much made sure [FORNICATE] Detroit was never really in this game, even when they actually were after one period. 4-1 was the final and Jaroslav Halak didn’t give up any woofers, so I guess that means the goaltending controversy continues. Silly stuff.

As for Tuesday’s game in New Jersey . . . well, the Blues took that one off, so it would only make sense if I just . . . ummmmm, skip it. Yeah, that’s what I’m gonna do.

That leaves us with last night’s tilt with Kevin Klein’s new team. I’m assuming once Ken Hitchcock saw Rick Nash (or as we at Game Time call him . . . Rick nASH, thanks to some awful Blue Jackets name plates) on the other side, he assumed this was another Central Division game and decided to make this game extra boring. “THEY DON’T EVEN GO HERE, KEN”, I pleaded. “NOT EVEN HIS OLD TEAM”, I murmured aloud. “SAVE US THE BORING STUFF”, I begged. He didn’t listen. Apparently that’s one of Hitch’s bad habits. Anyway, somehow three total goals were scored in this game (though the participants themselves probably don’t even know precisely HOW this happened), two of those goals belonged to Blues players (but the other belonged to the aforementioned nASH), several prominent Manhattan bankers died of boredom, Halak made a bunch of saves and the Blues won 2-1. Let us not speak of this again.

Only two games between now and next Friday await The Note as they complete their eastern road swing . . . tomorrow afternoon on Long Island and Tuesday night, hosting those same Devils from Tuesday. I’ll assume the result will be a bit better this time around . . . but you know what happens when you assume. Tonight, though, is a more somber mission for the team, as they will be in attendance for the “White Out For Mandi”  game at Yale University for the late sister of the aforementioned Prince William. Cancer can suck a fat one.

Colorado Avalanche
The Internet’s Anthrax Jones
@anthraxjones

The past 7 days in Avs hockey featured only two games, both against teams that have never won a Stanley Cup in an NHL with more than six teams in it. Here’s a brief review of each game written in anapestic trimeter:

COLORADO 5, NASHVILLE 4

On a night that Nick Holden’s aflame
Nashville’s snipers broke out much too late
David Legwand’s “leg wand” is a foot
Barry Trotz has a neck, but it’s moot

TORONTO 5, COLORADO 2

The Olympian Hero to be
Wears the sweater adorned by a Leaf
Ol’ Phil Kessel may not look like much
Til he blows past your defense and such

Minnesota Wild
Hockey Wilderness‘s Ger Devine
@gerdevine

The Wild began the week by welcoming Ben Scrivens to life as an Oilers goalie with the traditional “ship 4 goals” ceremony. He is signed in EDM until the end of the season and I imagine any extension offers will be met with derisive laughter before he starts running in the other direction.

Some genius decided that a good way to celebrate Hockey Day In Minnesota would be by bringing the Dallas Stars to town to remind all the excited Minnesotans about how their beloved North Stars left and won a Cup in a city where NHL ice hockey is less popular than high school football (definitely) and competitive eating (probably). Luckily, they forgot all about that as, Minnesota native, Nate Prosser was the unlikely OT hero, sending the local media and fans into a frenzy.

The Wild got paid-back in the 2nd game of that home-and-home for their somewhat fortuitous win in the 1st, with Dallas winning 4-0 in a Conference III slaughter. In response, the Wild decided to duct-tape Zach Parise back together and his presence obviously made a difference, as the the team played well and jumped to a 2-0 lead at home to the Blackhawks, before falling back into a rearguard effort and letting 10 year old goalie Darcy Kuemper save their bacon in the latter stages.

Games against the Blackhawks are always tough for Wild fans as they are reminded about the, now infamous, trade from 2010 that brought Cam Barker to Minnesota in exchange for Kim Johnsson. Barker’s bought-out contract is finally off the books this season, but the blueline is still reeling from the loss of Johnsson. That trade will haunt Wild GM Chuck Fletcher for years to come.

Dallas Stars
Defending Big D‘s David Wilson
@daveyssuitcase

This DemocraThree week has been great. Sure the Stars began it by losing two more games and falling to 1-8-1 on the year, but it ended with this.

Getting down to business this week, don’t believe anything Ger said up above. It’s all rubbish. The truth is, the Stars owned the home-and-away series with the Minnesota Wild. Sure the Wild might have won the first game, but it was on Hockey Day in Minnesota. And everyone knows the universe has karmic laws in place to ensure the Wild don’t lose on that day. So the Stars blitzed the Wild net, outshooting them by a wide margin, but in a gesture of goodwill refused to ever take the lead in the game, and gave the Wild the win in overtime.

Following that game both teams had two off days before playing the second leg of the series back in Dallas. The Wild presumably spent their off days hanging out in Dallas, marveling at the possibility of walking outdoors in winter without icicles forming on your face. While the Stars spent their off days traveling to Nashville and playing the Predators.

We won’t talk about that game, as really it was only a warmup in preparation for the second game against the Wild, and anyway, I’m sure J.R. will have plenty to say about it.

I will say though that I do wonder about the NHL schedule sometimes. I feel like that room full of monkeys sitting at typewriters really does exist. Only, every failed Shakespearean manuscript they produce is instead released as an NHL schedule.

After the detour through Nashville, it was thus the Wild welcoming the Stars to Dallas. Where the Stars quickly erased whatever warm fuzzy feelings might have been lingering in Wild hearts following Hockey Day in Minnesota.

The Stars rounded out the DemocraThree week with a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. And for once there was justice in the #fancystats universe. Toronto, a terrible possession team, were outpossesed by the Stars, a good possession team, and the score reflected that. Although perhaps those 7 goals the Stars scored were a bit much. At least though they served to unite Maple Leafs fans and Beliebers.

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

For the second time in as many weeks, we begin by welcoming a new Predator:

Stay-at-home stalwart Kevin Klein heads for the bright lights of Broadway and renowned “techno” and “model” enthusiast Michael Del Zotto comes to Music City in exchange where the only techno we have is in front of the word “babble” and our finest models are at the Tennessee Central Railroad Museum.

Nonetheless, the trade restored balance to the blue line — three pairs of one southpaw and one…northpaw? — which brings much joy to renowned symmetry enthusiast David Poile, who also apparently wants to have at least half of the offense come from his rearguard, which would actually require his forwards to score more.

In any event, this was a pretty decent week for the Preds. Devan Dubnyk stepped in against Colorado — a seemingly-wise coaching decision by Barry Trotz, because the name “Devan Dubnyk” elicits the kind of response from Coloradans that “Oh crap! The cops!” did in pre-legalization times.

But apparently Dubnyk left all his Avalanche-stopping power in Edmonton along with his moose gun and sled dogs. Meanwhile, the Nashville defense showed off some of that Southern hospitality we are known for by making Dubnyk feel welcome with a delightful impression of the Oilers’ “defense.” Nick Holden did his best Jack Skille impression by quadrupling his career goal total with two goals against Nashville. The Preds fell behind 3-0 and then 5-1 and then stormed back in the last half of the third to close it to 5-4, but couldn’t find the tying goal.

Carter Hutton got the call against Dallas, because he is a Chambers Pot legend and because Devan Dubnyk needed to rid himself of some bad habits, which means he will be getting extra time in Mitch Korn’s Patented Goaltending School. Some of the drills Korn uses include: catching caffeinated canaries in a dark closet while wearing 19th-century oven mitts, chasing chinchillas across the ice armed only with a children’s piano and a map of Moldova and standing behind a large piece of plywood while defensemen shoot white pucks as hard as they can (that one is actually real).

Anywho, Hutton did as Hutton does against Dallas, shutting ‘em down and winning the Pot (and shedding the Crown of Fecal Matter in the process) as the Preds put four behind Kari Lehtonen.

Then it was off on the annual Circus Roadtrip through Western Canada (and Winnipeg), opening up in Vancouver, where Ryan Kesler would be attempting to score his 400th career goal against Nashville. The Preds made the trip without Terry Crisp (who is, at the moment, telling lies with the rest of the Broad Street Bullies at a reunion in Philly) and without assistant coach Lane Lambert whose wife is going through chemotherapy (cancer sucks). Crisp is replaced in the TV booth by Stu Grimson who will be performing the Itsy Bitsy Spider for anyone who asks and Lambert’s back-up on the bench is Conference III legend Scott Nichol.

It was a breezy game, the first period hardly interrupted except for a tilt between Rich Clune and Larry From The Three Stooges Gérard Depardieu Dale Weise, which produced this:

BettHVnIMAAU7FF

Not sure if the changes were what inspired it, but Kesler didn’t score, the Preds won, getting two goals in the third for a 2-1 win in B.C., their first win all season after trailing at the end of two.

Hutton was the hero again, but he got good help from Nick “A Hockey Player” Spaling, who took time out from autographing things (seriously, ask any Preds fan if they have something autographed by Nick Spaling and they will produce literal crates of pucks, jerseys, sticks, calendars, Gnash action figures and commemorative plates) to set up a sweet goal by Craig Smith and tip in a shot from Seth Jones on the power play, raising the question “Why is Nick Spaling on the power play and not autographing things?”.

Anywho, the Preds have a chance to climb right back into this thing with a Friday-Sunday set in Alberta and a Tuesday trip to lovely Winnipeg (Motto: Oh my gosh! Where’s your coat?).

JetsNation‘s Ross Smith
@EBHeater

evil_spock

What parallel world have I fallen into?! Did some kind of transdimensional wormhole open up above my bedroom? I recognize not these strange surroundings. Here, in this world (henceforth to be referred to as Earth Goatee – because, as we know, all evil twins sport a goatee and this strange place can only be our Earth’s eeeeeeeeevil twin) the sky is filled with dirigibles and the evergreen trees are a shade of light mauve, though still named Evergreens, oddly enough. Comfortingly, the people here also enjoy hockey! They even have their own Winnipeg Jets but here’s the really crazy part – this version plays with structure and consistency, almost as if they had a game plan that they were confident to stick to. Not only that, but the game plan seems to be working! In the week since we last spoke, America, they nearly went unbeaten! Oh, sure there was a loss last night to the San Jose Sharks (on Earth Goatee, Jumbo Joe Thornton is 17 feet tall, still can’t score but is literally a play-making robot – Intel Inside! – and will be dominant on the Canadian Olympic team) but back on our Earth Smooth and Kissable, The Jets would have collapsed for 3-9 goals against and everyone looking at Evander Kane like, “Fix it!”

Victories aren’t always about the win column. I don’t think this Jets team will feel to crushed by this defeat. I trust they will learn from it and try to correct their mistakes but I don’t foresee anyone curled up in their seats on the dirigible ride home sucking their thumbs and blowing pity bubbles into their glasses of milk. (“Milk” is what Earth Goateeans call their Pasteurized Cow Lactation! Isn’t that kooky?) I suspect they’re going to hit the ice next practice ready to work – and there’s much work to do for these or any multiverse Jets.

The Ducks and Sharks notably outclassed them in ways that you might expect: face-offs, time of possession, shots – all correctable. 8th place finish correctable…? Don’t get too excited, Goateeans. Little/Ladd/Frolik(/Wheeler) continue to be a strong combo and it’s nice to see Frolik’s skill used to full effect instead of being dragged down by less creative players. It’s what he was signed for, wasn’t it? Conversely, that third line is a mess. Setoguchi and Jokinen have had some surprisingly strong moments this season but it seems to be fading into a questionable memory now. I don’t know who’s the best fit for that line but the Frankenplayer experiment with Big Dusty B up front has got to stop before some little girl gets thrown into a lake. (Somehow that’s a Corsi metaphor, I’ll let you sort it out.) They need him back on defense; the rest of the corps can’t manage without him! Enstrom is constantly strong and Trouba keeps improving but the rest of those guys wouldn’t be able to stop (2-time EG Academy Award winner for Best Sound Editing and Best Supporting Actress) Emilio Estevez’s Mighty Ducks let alone Getzlaf and friends.

The last two games should be instructive for the Jets. Importantly, they highlight Winnipeg’s lack of that most-elusive component necessary for a championship calibre team: Depth. Oh, trade deadline, won’t you bring us a goalie and another reliable two-way defenseman? Sigh. Well, as they say here on EG, if wishes were deadly vampire horses, I’d have a spooky ranch full!

I don’t know if I’ll ever find my way home to ES&K and I’m not sure that I want to. The Oilers are Cup favourites here (single tear rolls down my cheek) and car exhaust smells like mango chutney! It’s a magical place. We’ll keep hoping that Paul Maurice has instilled enough confidence in this group for them to remain determined. If so, he’ll have the coaching job sewn up for the next couple years. We’ll keep looking forward to the development of Scheifele, Trouba, O’Dell and soon Petan – the kids are more than alright. We’ll keep cheering for Al Montoya to be the miraculous answer to our goaltending woes. I’m kidding. Even on Earth Goatee, Al rides the pine. The mauve pine.

Until next week, America!