The sport of Hockey has its enemies. I would generally label the worst enemy as Gary Bettman, the insidious greasy lawyer sent by the NBA to destroy the game from the inside out. In my heart of hearts though, I know that’s not true. The game’s real enemy are the hand wringing Soccer Moms of America whose only knowledge of the game comes from the schoolyard tales of their kids, or when mainstream news coverage latches on to a violent incident. WE can thank Bettman for that, souring his deal with ESPN means that they bend over backwards to either ignore or denigrate the great frozen game. As such, the game continually transitions from hockey to what I call “Wussball”, which is just Hockey with no fighting, checking or actual physical contact with the other participants. Fortunately, Hockey’s current best storyline is seemingly only being noticed by Canadians and a few hardcore American and International fans (Love you guys!). Yes folks, the best thing going right now is The Motherfucking Battle of Alberta. The beef between Zach Kassian and Matt Tkachuk came to a crescendo recently. I actually hate both guys, but came away from it with new respect for both of them as they handled it as well as it possibly could have gone. It was everyone else who decided to turn up the heat, especially the Goalies. Is there anything cooler than a Goalie fight? I also love David Rittich’s unrepentant stick flipping antics. The games themselves are tightly contested and full of great displays by skill players like Leon Draisatl and Johnny Hockey. Drai recently usurped Connor McDavid on the top of the scoring charts. I mean, you can’t get mad about it but I think it stole the Hart Trophy out of McDavid’s hands and put it in Nathan MacKinnon’s. Kinda hard to win the MVP when you’re second on your team in scoring. Does this make Connie Mack the second line centre?
Elias Pettersson just had the quote of the year to me
“The refs already have a tough job. I’m not looking for calls. I don’t want to have a reputation. I’m not embellishing or diving. I want to play hard hockey and play with respect. All I can control is playing my best hockey.”
Has anyone ever gotten more calls by bitching at the ref, or burying them in the post game presser? Fans are the worst for this too, and it also bleeds on to the ice. Shower the refs with garbage, make billboards about how they suck – that’s gonna creep into the edges of their psyche and they’ll make calls against you. I used to bark at teammates for chirping the ref in beer league. I remember a few years back Alexandre Burrows – a dirty player through and through – tattled on the ref that vowed revenge on him for getting him called onto the league office carpet for being tricked by a blatant dive by Burrows. Did it not occur to Burrows that he could have avoided that situation by not diving? I could never understand guys like Burrows, Sean Avery and Matt Cooke complaining about not getting calls to the ref. You guys know the refs know who you are, right? I think refs should have carte blanche to give scumbags who deliberately injure people random unsportsmanlike conduct penalties if they talk shit to the stripes. One thing is for certain – Pettersson is gonna get calls his way for the rest of his career. That wasn’t so hard was it? How do these grown men with millions of dollars on the line not know when to shut the heck up?
Boston has won four in a row to hold onto first in the Atlantic, with Tampa Bay winning 4 in a row to keep them from gaining any ground. They’re both gaining on the Caps, but Alex Ovechkin’s natural hat trick and closing in on 700 goals (698!) makes them seem like a more mythical opponent regardless of standings. We also know the Caps do better when they don’t win the President’s Trophy. John Carlson’s still my Norris guy as he continues his ridiculous scoring pace. He’s also sealed his iron grip over Wild Bill Karlsson, Melker Karlsson and Erik “I can’t find my own end with a map” Karlsson for the title of the NHL’s best phonetic Carlson!