Saturday, September 29, 2007

Bloody Chiclets: First Game of the Season and some Odds and Ends

NHL logoKings logoDucks logoSens logoFlyers logoI caught the first game of the NHL season online last night. A relatively poor connection meant I didn't see much uninterrupted action of the match-up between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks but it was still good to see live hockey being played again. Initial reactions from the game are that Kings' goalie Jonathan Bernier could end up making the team far better than I (and many others) had expected. The Ducks looked fairly listless and are going to feel the loss of Selanne and Niedermayer.

The cliched narrative making the rounds this morning? No doubt it's "Cup hangover," in reference to the Ducks having less time to rest before starting this season.

Loads of penalties for each team, with the first 4 goals coming on the power play and the final tally a short-handed open netter from Los Angeles. Todd Bertuzzi had the first penalty of the game which could be a foreshadowing of things to come. Mike Cammalleri had two of the goals for the Kings.

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Feeling a bit of empathy for Dean McAmmond as I mashed my head on a low hanging pipe a few days ago. Didn't really hurt my melon but felt my neck compress as I stepped up and into the pipe.


The 20 games levied against Steve Downie for his hit on McAmmond seems fair enough to me. The sociopathic lovers of all the borderline nastiness in the NHL are up in arms throwing around the usual cliches and empty rhetoric. You know, the type who gets a thrill out of issuing threats by proxy and can't fathom that without some restrictions and lines which shouldn't be crossed, it ceases to be a sport.


There is one mantra that has been thrown about for years has always bothered me. "He got caught admiring his pass." This is an effective line that helps youngsters playing the game learn about the dangers of keeping their heads up. But far too many literalists toss it around in reference to big league games under the belief that a player like McAmmond who got hammered, truly was admiring his pass. No, he wasn't actually congratulating himself with an internal conversation along the lines of "man, you're one smooth son-of-a-bitch, look at the visuals on that..." WHOOMPH!!


No, he was actually looking at what happened after he passed the puck to determine where exactly he would next position himself. Unwise, yes, but let's add some nuance to these tired bromides and make the whole discussion a tad more interesting.


As for the debate over whether he actually left his feet, is it really unclear to some people? And does the nonsensical qualifier that he only left his feet right before the hit actually rate any credibility? Does anyone launch themselves 5 feet away from an opponent they want to demolish? No, leaving your feet directly before a hit is the way to maximize the added upward force. In fact, would physics even allow such an aftermath as saw Downie sail through the air if he hadn't left his feet at all before the hit? Any hockey physicists out there?


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Still on the Downie hit, I liked this quote from Tim Panaccio writing over at hockeybuzz.com:


" Don't kid yourself because you sit in Section 101, sipping on Sonoma Valley chardonnay between periods."


A less than subtle dig at people who just might attend games more for the status it affords than the actual pleasure of watching the action on the ice.


Yes, I do check in at hockeybuzz for the some of columnists, such as Panaccio and Howard Berger. Panaccio especially offers great insight on the Flyers and Berger pens a pretty entertaining column about the Leafs. I glance at the small box on the left with Eklund's lead-in but never go beyond that (I've heard that you have to pay to get complete access to his online acid trips...can this be true?) Always interesting to see if he can ram some skewed syntax and a few malapropisms into those few lines.


Speaking of Berger, man does that guy engage in some hyperbole. That's probably half the reason his articles are worth reading but sometimes I get the feeling he's just been snubbed regarding an interview or otherwise denied access to the Leafs and has stormed off and spewed some vitriol. This rant about Toskala is a classic example.

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