I woke up Sunday morning and saw something I never thought I would see, especially on such a big day for the NFL. I flipped on Sportscenter and they were talking about a Canucks-Flames game. Let that sink in for a second. Not only were they talking about hockey but two teams from Canada with one being on the playoff bubble and the other a downtrodden franchise with no direction.
Clearly something absurd had to have happened and of course John Tortorella was involved…
Nothing captures the general sports fans interest in the NHL like a line brawl. For some context the coaches Bob Hartley and John Tortorella have some history.
In terms of the “hockey code” Torts did what he saw fit to protect his guys against the Flames goons. He sent his out there and then also took exception to Hartley not confronting him on the bench so Torts went back to the locker room to do it. Torts will meet with the NHL on Monday in person for his penalty.
There are plenty of storylines to make out of this but for the Canucks and Torts it is pretty simple, they had a horrible week which included getting smacked by the Ducks 9-1 and they felt they needed to change the narrative of their team. They did so by fighting which considering the Canucks recent history of a highly skilled team led by the Sedins seems strange. They won the game but it is clear they aren’t the same team they have been since the Bruins beat them in Game 7 in 2011. And when they hired Torts in the offseason I expected the Circus to show up in Western Canada. It took over half a season but the Circus is finally open in Vancouver. (The Canucks are 1-10 against the California team this season, clearly they have been passed in the West.)
For the bigger picture you could say this was a good thing for the NHL because they actually got attention but many will just look at the NHL as a garage league. The league itself has to decide if this is something they will tolerate or if they will actually try and rid of it from the game. Just like the NFL the NHL has a concussion problem. This may cause them to reevaluate fighting in the NHL as shocking as that might sound to some.
Either way I will be rooting for the Canucks to make the playoffs and play the Blackhawks first round because I find epic playoff series the most entertaining thing about the sport. I also enjoy the Circus too so if Vancouver goes in the tank I will grab my popcorn and enjoy that as well.
1. This week in why hockey can’t have nice things: PK Subban: The “modest and humble police” were out in full force in the hockey world this week as Subban scored the game winner against the Sens and then celebrated. Your reaction to this is really just a test of how you view sports. Those that like to put their own moral lense on sports will be angry at PK for being “classless.” Those that look at sports as pure entertainment will enjoy this because it looks like fun and creates some heat between the two teams. I am in the latter group and I enjoy the fun that PK brings to the game even if it means he beats my team. (Which he could on Wednesday, in which case I will hate him that day.) This is not subject to just hockey as we get to see this test performed in mass over the next two weeks with Richard Sherman. If you wanted to know what category of fan someone was in you will find out.
2. Outdoor games at Dodger and Yankee Stadium this week: With the NFL taking a bye next weekend the NHL will try and capture some attention with outdoor games at Dodgers Stadium Saturday night and then a game at Yankees Stadium Sunday afternoon. (There will also be a 2nd outdoor game in NY the following Wednesday) Each of these should be events that will gather attention, especially an outdoor game in LA where it will be over 80 degrees during the day.
3. Read these two Down Goes Brown Posts
a. NHL Dictionary: The Sean Avery face wash gets me everytime
b. Kill the loser point: It must die
4. Wings win on a weird bounce: Add this to the things that aren’t reviewable that clearly could be reviewed.
6. We are fast approaching the first trade deadline: Weird year as there is an unofficial trade deadline prior to the Olympic break and then the actual deadline on March 5th.
7. Jimmy Fallon and Drake played Beer Hockey: I am so upset this was not around when I was in college.
Best save: Carter Hutton against the Flyers
Best game/ best goal: Kadri’s setup to Franson against the Habs in the game of the week
Hottest Team: The CBJ has won six straight and are currently in the playoffs
Coldest Team: The Caps have lost 5 in a row and are 2-5-3 in their last 10
Top 5 teams: 1. Hawks 2. Ducks 3. Pens 4. Blues 5. Bruins
Bottom 5 teams 26. NYI 27. Calgary 28. Oilers 29. Panthers 30. Sabres
Big games this week
Monday: Kings at Bruins 3pm NHLN. The NHL celebrates MLK day with a game at 3pm which is exactly what MLK would have wanted.
Tuesday: Wild at Stars 8pm NBCSN. I assume everyone will tune in for this one.
Wednesday: Hawks at Wings 8pm NBCSN. This will be the first time these two meet as members of opposite conferences. First time since game 7 last year.
Thursday: Kings at Ducks 10pm NHLN. The first of back to back between these two. This one will be inside though.
Friday: Habs at Red Wings 730pm NHLN. These two Original Six teams will do battle and at the very least the jerseys will be spectacular.
Saturday: Ducks vs Kings 930pm NBCSN. There will be lots happening as not only is there an ice rink but a roller hockey rink and a beach volleyball and KISS. KISSSSSSSSSSS
Sunday: Rangers vs Devils 1230pm NBC. Come for Yankees Stadium, stay for Jagr.
1. Played one game and got the win: 4-3 win over the Caps with this Maatta goal as the winner
2. Should get some guys back: Martin, Megna and Kobasew should be in the lineup tonight against the Panthers.
3. Trade deadline talk: Everyone’s favorite subject.
4. What to do with Simon Despres?: He is clearly the player targeted to be traded but with 3 guys UFAs at the end of the year (Orpik, Niskanen, Engo) maybe they might hang on to him.
5. Crosby is Captain Canada: It is a weird two weeks for Sid, Malkin and Bylsma (and me)
6. It will all come down to MAF: Because it always does
7. This week: Panthers, Habs, @NYI, @Dallas