DemocraThree: 21 March 2014

by J.R.

demo210

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; 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.

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

When we last heard from the Conference III leaders, Ryan Miller still had a white mask and they still hadn’t lost a Conference III game in regulation, which is friggin’ insane. But it couldn’t last forever.

We start Saturday in Nashville. If you hadn’t known that the team wearing white was NOT the home team, you would’ve guessed that it was actually a home game for the Blues as even though there may have been just less than half the crowd as Blues supporters, they were certainly louder than the home fans. Believe me, Preds fans, we’ve been there . . . Chicago . . . Detroit . . . but anyway, the Blues played a pretty darn good game too, and they pulled out a 4-1 victory with large help from two Swedes, Patrik Berglund (two goals) and Alexander Steen (a laser rocket shot to ice the thing). And there was much rejoicing by the road crowd.

Next was an Amateur Night . . . errr, St. Patrick’s Day . . . matchup with the O’AtlantaPeg McThrasherJets. T.J. Oshie missed the game to witness the birth of his first child, and the previous day it was announced that Vladimir Tarasenko would miss the remainder of the regular season with a hand ailment that would require surgery. How did they respond? Oh, fairly. The game was tied midway through the third period, but David Backes put one on the board on a power play, then put one on the board without shooting the puck (empty net breakaway pull-down), and then the real fun started . . . a line brawl! It was one that ended up robbing Chris Porter of another empty net goal, but the two sides logged 100+ penalty minutes and the Blues took the win 3-1. Since the Jets had beaten the Conference III Belt Champion Dallas Stars in a game the previous night, the Blues once again regained the Belt. But it wouldn’t last.

And that’s because the Blues basically didn’t show up in Chicago against the Blackhawks on Wednesday for the Wednesday Night “Oh My God This Actually IS A” Rivalry. This would be Ryan Miller’s first regulation loss with the Blues, and he was pulled midway through the third, but honestly, he was not to blame. Thanks to that loss, the Belt now belongs to the Blackhawks, who in turn handed the Conference-leading Blues . . . Obscene Alex’s Conference III Crown of [Fecal Matter]. I . . . hurt myself today . . . to see if I still . . . feel . . . .

The Blues are currently on the road because of some thing they call the NCAA Basketball Tournament. (Hey, Wichita State is back! And I hear they’re good and stuff). So, next up, the Blues play a couple afternoon games in Pennsylvania, first heading to Philly to face the Flyers Saturday then off to Pittsburgh for the Penguins Sunday. Then they head to Toronto Tuesday for my birthday then head home for dates against the Wild(s) Thursday and the Stars Saturday, hopefully unloading the Crown in one of those contests. And Ryan Miller will be playing most of these games with a sweet new mask that recalls the days of Curtis Joseph. Oooooooooh, nice.

Chicago Blackhawks
Cheer The Anthem‘s Mike Devine
@brightblack76

Another week of up and down and up again for the Hawks.. they started out by barfing up a 2-3 loss to the Preds that had many of us clutching at our heads and howling in public places.. and then, in the bipolar state that this season has been, they went to town on former close-rivals (and Conference III Fraidey Cats) Detroit for a 4-1 victory that also featured Marian Hossa returning from injury and, incidentally, Destroying Worlds. The Wings may not be Public Enemy #1 anymore for the Hawks, but walloping them is always fun.

However, Chicago managed to go out and completely soil themselves against the Battery-Chuckers of Philadelphia. They put up two goals against former-Hawk and All-Round Crazy Person Ray Emery in the first few minutes, but ended upon the wrong end of a 3-2 OT loss.

This left the fanbase somewhat jittery when it came to the Blues rolling onto the United Center the following night. St Louis had already dominated the season series and had yet to lose to a Conference III team in regulation. For the first time in their (admittedly short) histories, the Conference III Belt moved from the rat-infested confines of St Louis while the Crown of Excreta floated down to St Louis along with all of Chicago’s sewage.

Of course, the main story among Hawks fans is the imminent arrival of Teuvo Teravainen, who is on a plane from Finland to Chicago as of this writing. The Hawks’ dreadful MSM Corps have been working  hard to belittle fans who have the temerity to be excited about the most phenomenally talented Hawks draftee since Pat Kane joining the team.

Today (Friday) is #TeuvoDayInAmerica.

teuvoday

Colorado Avalanche
The Internet’s Anthrax Jones
@anthraxjones

The Colorado Avalanche had one of the tougher weeks of their 2013-14 campaign, only drawing 3 of a possible 8 points in tilts with Anaheim, Ottawa, Montreal, and Winnipeg. This will not do, if the Avs hope to gain home ice advantage in their inevitable first round clash with the Chicago Teravainens. Let’s break down each of the games in almost-limerick, and let the beautiful poetry wash away the stink of the week.

 

ANAHEIM 6, COLORADO 4

Despite the loss to the Ducks
It’s plain to see Anaheim sucks
When Perry and Getzlaf
Lose in round one, we will laugh
Bruce Boudreau can eat a dozen donuts in 8 minutes

COLORADO 3, OTTAWA 1

I spent most of the game playing look-see
I looked hard but I didn’t see Alfie
Eugene Melnyk’s CSI
Didn’t need to reveal why
Alfie signed in Detroit lololol

MONTREAL 6, COLORADO 3

Colorado started Giguere, see
Enabling the Habs to say “Merci!”
5 crappy goals later
Giggy’s cooked like a tater
But at least Patrick Roy didn’t stab anyone to death

WINNIPEG 5, COLORADO 4 (OT)

The debut of Rodeo Bear
Suspiciously looked like Giguere
Giving up two goals to Ladd
Still isn’t quite as bad
As living in Winnipeg

Minnesota Wild
Hockey Wilderness‘s Ger Devine
@gerdevine

Has it been a week already? Since the last DemocraThree, the Wild have played 4 games, one at home and 3 on the road, all against Eastern Conference foes.

Things started dismally with a 2-1 shoot-out loss to the Blue Jackets at the Xcel Energy Center. Normally I would say things about the game here but I literally can’t remember a single thing about it other than it being extremely not-fun.

The Bruins game clashed with St.Patrick’s Day, so I missed most of it as I was out enjoying all the shenanigans. What I did see (and heard about) was that the Wild got kicked around by a far superior team. Mike Yeo’s player usage was very questionable, with Erik Haula and Nino Niederreiter seeing the lowest ice time on the team while Dany Heatley continued to get top minutes. Haula was announced as a healthy scratch for the next game in favour of, noted facepuncher, Cody McCormick inciting much rage across the state of Minnesota as, to them, Haula is most certainly “one of us”.

It didn’t seem to matter though as the Wild ran riot against the Islanders.Just to make sure the night was as horrible and painful as possible for Islanders fans, Matt Moulson scored twice on his return, Nino Niederreiter got an assist and, ex-Islanders draft pick, Jared Spurgeon also got a goal. There were loud chants of “We Want Moulson!” to be heard around the sparsely packed arena.

The week concluded with an awful game in New Jersey. The major talking point was Zach Parise making his long-awaited return to the place where he spent most of his career. The boos were loud and the signage was crass. Of course, Parise scored as the Wild scored 3 times in the third to recover from 3-1 down before losing in OT.

Dallas Stars
Defending Big D‘s David Wilson
@daveyssuitcase

This was a forgettable week for the Stars. So much so that I’ve completely forgotten it.

No, that’s not entirely true. I have tried however to limit it to mere hazy recollections. For example, I dimly remember the Stars coughing up a two-goal third period lead and losing to the Flames in a shootout. And then something about getting blown the hell out in Winnipeg? Seriously though, 7-2, against the Jets. What the kerfuffle is that all about?

We can only wonder…

draftbenn

Sigh… Any time your team features on the wrong side of Obscene Alex’s Obscene Blowout of the Week it’s been a bad week. And to make it worse, the Stars could quite easily win honors for Obscene Blowout of the Week in the next edition, following a 5-1 loss to the Penguins on Tuesday.

Another loss last night, this time to the Flyers, and despair is beginning to creep in. I don’t even really know what to say about it. I don’t want to say anything. I’d rather… just… sing…

Come on Dallas Stars just last the year
Win a game and end the playoff drought of five years
My my my, my my my, my my
Staring at the rink of blood and Robi’s crushed tibia…

I told my team to wreck ‘em all
Beat the ‘Yotes and watch the ‘Nucks fall
My my my, my my my, my my
Right in this moment that order’s tall

But Jim Nill told us to be patient, Lindy Ruff told us it’d be fine
Jamie Benn told us to be balanced, Antoine Roussel told us to be kind
And in the morning when we wake up, and the playoffs are an uphill climb
Buffalo’s holding all the draft tickets, we can only ice one scoring line…

Come on Dallas Stars what happened here?
An 0 and 3 roadtrip reduced us all to tears
My my my, my my my, my my
At least tomorrow we play Ottawa…

Winnipeg Jets
JetsNation‘s Ross Smith
@EBHeater

monkey

Yesterday was the first day of spring and, as I learned from a customer at work, Persian New Year. Isn’t that great that New Year’s should accompany the arrival of spring? It’s such a sound concept thematically that it made me wonder how the west ended up with a New Year in the dead of winter. Turns out it was because of a Pope. It’s always some highfalutin jerk in a miter, isn’t it? Gregorian calendar? More like Great-Boring-an…

Well, either spring or Norooz or something got into the Jets this week since they decided to stay competitive. I’m not going to suggest that the team is more confident playing in front of back-up Al Montoya but it wouldn’t surprise me if whatever injury Pavelec is dealing with (Rebounditis of the Knee? Glove Hand Exhaustion?) ends up lingering a bit longer when  he “tweaks it in practice” by which I mean gets kneecapped by Paul Maurice with a tire iron. Then Jets Nation will rest easy, playoffs or not, knowing that at least the team really did try everything they could to win.

So here we are with a team wearing an adjective not just assigned to Scooby Doo’s annoying, pandering sidekick any longer: Scrappy. 2 wins and a not-humiliating defeat against divisional rivals mean we can all sip the fine wine of delusion (Oaky!) for at least another week. I want to cheer these guys on but every night in this conference is a dogfight and it’s those pesky Yotes out in the desert that are clinging on to that last playoff spot.  The Jets aren’t any majestic Lassie coming to save the day for their fans, they’re more a sodden Benji or a Muffit – you know, that weird robot panda dog from Battlestar Galactica that had a chimp inside it? We’re all just robot dogs with chimps inside, aren’t we? While you’re trying to work some sense into that statement, maybe it’s more important to ask yourself why I allowed myself such a bizarre dog/retro family entertainment-themed tangent just now? Like a 10th place Jets team where Eric Tangradi managed to score against Colorado, it doesn’t make sense, you just gotta shrug your shoulders and roll with it.

I can’t separate excitement from dread these days. The top lines are clicking marvelously but they’ve never been the issues with this team. By contrast, look at Chicago – Patrick Kane, Prince of Snipers, goes down with injury (4th Place Olympic Lumbago?) and who do they have to replace him? Teuvo Teravainen: a kid they literally call “The Finnish Patrick Kane”. Let’s hope he can beat enough cab drivers to live up to the hype.

In Winnipeg, if Wheeler or Ladd or Little or Kane went down, they’d move Bogosian from the blue line, call up Stepan to sit on the bench and dress the goalie coach as the 6th d-man. They’d lose that game 4-2 and call it a success. Ah, folks, it’s just a puzzle with too many pieces missing.

But it’s spring, right? New hope and cherry blossoms and lighter jackets but with heavier sweaters… hmmm, maybe it’s not warm enough for the lighter jackets yet. What, it’s snowing again? Son of a–! Someone call me when spring has actually sprung. By then the Jets will either be a terrific surprise or off golfing and I’ll have made my way through all 5 seasons of the new BSG on Netflix. See?! There’s a franchise that knew how to retool!

PS – if you haven’t seen that Ales Hemsky goal from last night, go to YouTube immediately. Heart’s Magic Man should play behind him wherever he goes.

PPS – I just wanted to say a fond farewell to Dustin Byfuglien who moved on from my fantasy hockey keeper team at our trade deadline this week. It was a pleasure, Buf, but I was thin at LW and needed to make room for Chris Kunitz. Chris, welcome. I apologize for all those things I said about you being Sidney’s annoying, pandering sidekick. Please score many points.

See you next week, America!

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

Remember the Nashville Predators? Remember when it would be March and they’d be winning 10 of 12 and be rewarded for giving up Bridgestone Arena to the CMA Awards for two weeks in October with a nice-long season-ending homestand, through which the team would propel themselves into safe playoff position?

I remember them. I remember making budgetary changes to make sure I had enough tucked away for the playoffs. Seven of eight years, the Preds would get into the playoffs and there was always something great about the Tennessee air warming and the days getting longer on those jaunty walks down Demonbreun to the arena. It was all hope and pollen and David Legwand out there in those days.

Alas, this is not one of those years. The Preds are spending most of the wind-down of the season on the road for whatever reason (some combination of Cher and the NCAA Women’s Final Four are at play) and for a much more obvious reason, there is no solidifying win streak either (the reason is that despite being much, much better than they have been historically at possessing the puck, they are no good at scoring the puck). Even David Legwand is gone to Detroit, where, unleashed from the strictures of Barry Trotz’s system, he is exploding all over the score sheet.

It’s not been all existential crises and Weltschmerz and hiraeth down here, though. There’s been hockey, too. Sort of.

The Predators avoided the ignominy of wearing the Poophat by beating Chicago at the United Center to complete a perfect road trip. And then promptly got kicked around by the Blues at home, portending one of the worst trips westward since the Donner Party first asked “Hey you gonna finish him that?”. Beat up by Edmonton 5-1, because of course, and then shut out by Vancouver (despite playing well for much of the game), where the only saving grace was that, for the first time in the history of that series, no Canuck scored his first-ever NHL goal, nor did Ryan Kesler have nine goals and six assists.

But there is a glimmer of hope, perhaps, or at least a glimpse at the future. Teuvo Teravainen isn’t the only promising prospect making his way to the big club this week. Legwand’s return, touted Swede Calle Jarnkrok will debut for the Preds tonight and when the team returns to Nashville, maybe game ops will play a heavily-edited version of this to say hello:

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