Looking Back and Ahead

Just some jumbled thoughts some 36 hours after Game 6:

– A lot of the negative attention in Vancouver seems to have turned to Roberto Luongo, the goaltender who seemingly wet himself against the Hawks each of the last two years, and there’s good reason for that. Coming into the playoffs, the Hawks’ big weakness was goaltending; the ‘Nucks’ big advantage was Luongo.

Antti Niemi laid a couple of eggs – Game 1 and the first goal of Game 5 come to mind – but, on the whole, he was solid, even keeping the Hawks in Games 2 and 6 when it seemed things could go the other way. Luongo, on the other hand, surrendered two goals in the ‘Nucks two wins, but the Hawks managed 21 in their four wins (including at least two empty netters).

Yeah, it might be a little unfair, but Luongo is the team’s captain and, likely, its best player. If wetting the bed becomes an annual pastime for him, no one will have to worry about the Sedins come springtime.

– Speaking of the Canucks, I wondered out loud earlier in the week whether, given two straight second round exits, it was time to blow the roster up. Face it: outside of the Sedins, Ryan Kesler and Luongo (and, as discussed above, the track record of Luongo is less than sparkling when it counts), there isn’t much there.

The defense is in absolute shambles – counting on Shane O’Brien and Kevin Bieksa, who Eddie O called “a solid five or six,” could be hazardous to your health – and “leaders” like Alex Burrows helped willingly piss away Game 4, commonly thought to be the most crucial game in any series. And, that’s not to mention that Mikael Samuelsson is one weird looking dude.

And, while a total roster makeover is likely out of the question, given the large Sedin and Luongo deals, you’d think there have to be some pretty significant changes coming this summer. That would be a shame, because this is an infinitely unlikeable group.

Tim Sassone says Game 1 will be Sunday. That gives us plenty of time to talk about the Sharks. Speaking of, anyone know why Pat Foley has referred to San Jose as the “Sha-arks” (in a high, teenager-type voice) much of the last decade? I assume he or Dale Tallon slipped up in the booth one night, but I have no recollection of it.

– Sassone also believes the Western Conference finalists have the inside track to the Cup. Those kinds of statements often seem pretty funny after sweeps, and any of the three remaining teams are capable of making the Hawks or Sharks look silly in the Finals.

– Can we get a moratorium on passing the puck to the front of the Hawk net on a penalty kill for the Sharks series? It was a cute, novel play when Duncan Keith tried it last year, but Brent Sopel shouldn’t be relying on it as a way out of the zone while down a man.

– I’ll admit yelling at the television and sending a handful of profane text messages when informed that Troy Brouwer would be in the lineup on Tuesday in place of Tomas Kopecky. My anger was two-fold: Kopecky, I thought, had played pretty well with Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa and seemed to bring that line together; and, Brouwer, his understandable emotional issues notwithstanding, had been horrendous during the previous five weeks. When Brouwer coughed the puck up at his own blue line – again – early in Game 6, I briefly considered boycotting the remainder of his shifts.

But, Brouwer recovered and scored the game’s first goal on a neat set-up from Sharp. The truth is, though, that Brouwer, if he remains in the lineup, will be asked to (i) play solidly in his own end and (ii) make life difficult for Shark d-men in the Shark zone. Goals are nice, but for Brouwer, straight lines are nicer.

– Has Sopel’s strong defensive play during the playoffs guaranteed him a spot on next years team, or guaranteed that his larger salary will be moved?

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16 Responses to Looking Back and Ahead

  1. SteveHCtH says:

    I think the “Sha-arks” is a homage to the 80’s and early 90’s when Pat would get excited and his voice would teenagerishly crack. “Ba-annerman!” “He-e just missed the far post!”

  2. AC says:

    Well, Versus and the NHL network have already stated that the Western Conference Finals can’t start until after the Eastern Semis, the Sharks have a concert booked Saturday night at HP pavilion and NBC has announced that they will carry the Sharks-Hawks game at 2PM CT on Sunday, so that would be game 1. The rest of the schedule should be out tomorrow night. I am curious if they will start both series on Sunday, then give one an extra day off or if they will go for the East finals start on Monday.

  3. blackhawkbob says:

    I’d be surprised if they play both Games 1 on Sunday. Unless there are additional scheduling conflicts, I think the Eastern Finals will begin Monday – but who knows.

  4. dominator says:

    Sha-arks is what they chant at the Shark Tank. ‘Lets go Sha-Arks’, its dumb and I don’t get it.

  5. RGS says:

    I always had the sense Pat was using that voice to subtly mock them in the early days. They started out life with 58 losses in 91-92 and 71 losses in 92-93.

  6. Otter says:

    Since we’re talking about Pat… I’m happy I don’t have to hear “play-offs?!?!?!” any more. It’s a great sound bite that Eddie and Pat were/are slowly ruining.

    Anyone else dying for a Habs/Bruins series because:
    1) This would be the 33rd time the two teams have met in the playoffs which is totally amazing.
    2) Simmons would write about this series

  7. Lou says:

    O6 all the way.

    Thinking about the Van series there wasn’t one fighting major and we sure seemed tough enough physically. I guess we know they can rise to the occassion

    No let’s see if we can skate old Rob Blake into retirement

  8. CT says:

    1) This would be the 33rd time the two teams have met in the playoffs which is totally amazing.

    That would be pretty cool.

    2) Simmons would write about this series

    I wish someone would fling Bill Simmons into the sun.

  9. Deborah says:

    Gentlemen,

    Since there’s a bit of discussion on voice in this thread, have any of you noticed how much Dave Bolland’s voice resembles that of Butters on South Park? The similarity is so eerie, that my sister and I call him Butters Bolland, which has a rather nice ring to it.

  10. JM says:

    Sad to say, but I’m excited to get Foley out of there. ‘Edzo’ isn’t that funny, and any slight attempt at humor he makes doesn’t need to be met with 30 seconds of laughter.

  11. Jack says:

    Compared to most if not all of the other NHL teams’ announcing crews, Foley and Edzo stack up pretty well. Edzo big timed me a little bit when I tried to engage him at a Thrashers/Hawks game in Atlanta, but I’ve forgiven him.

  12. AC says:

    While it would be 33 times for the Bruins-Habs, it is the first for the Sharks-Hawks. Let’s set the tempo right and finish this off the right way.

  13. Big Tony says:

    I like Simmons when he doesn’t hammer his columns with pop culture references. A few are fine, but my God man….we don’t all watch shitty reality shows. His NBA ass-suckery gets old too. But I like a bunch of his stuff, especially his mailbags.

    I’d love to see Mtl/Bos too, if only to set up an Original 6 Finals with us. I’m not an Original 6 spaz, but it would be kinda cool to see it. I sure don’t think it will be any better for hockey than any other matchup.

    Why do I get the feeling that game 1 is going to be REALLY important this series? Yeah, they all are, but this one feels a bit different to me. Maybe because we’re due to win one?

  14. daveanton says:

    I’m pretty sure the “Sha-ark!” reference is from a movie/cartoon/sitcom. So sure, in fact, that I cannot remember.

  15. Otter says:

    The NHL, if it was like the NBA, would make sure the Hawks play the Bruins in the Finals. ESPN would actually cover the darn thing.

    If a Bruins/Hawks Cup finals happens along with a Magic/Suns NBA Finals, things are finally looking up for the NHL for the first time since 1994.

  16. CT says:

    “If a Bruins/Hawks Cup finals happens along with a Magic/Suns NBA Finals, things are finally looking up for the NHL for the first time since 1994.”

    Otter – and you know what that means: LOCKOUT!

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