Thursday 29 Sep 2016

More on NHL 2013
Clobber Samson

All I ask is the chance to [show you] money can’t make me happy

Spike Milligan,
lunatic

 I put a dollar bill in the change machine and nothing changed

George Carlin,
ironist

True enough George. The rich are getting richer and the poor are waiting to inherit the earth, although that was, technically, the meek, which at the current rate of climate change destruction should be sometime next week. Yet, "We're waist deep in the big muddy and the big fool say to push on," sings Pete Seeger.

Well, more on that slippery oily stuff another time perhaps.

Returning to the topic du jour, I wonder how many NHL hockey players in Minnesota are Spike Milligan fans?

What's that old adage about getting one's monies worth? In a recent game against the Canucks in Wild Country, the fans were booing in the first period! The multi-millionaire newcomers, Parise and Suter, along with old horses Heatley and Setaguchi, which sounds more like a fancy shoe brand than a hockey player, can't seem to, er buy a goal.

Last night the Wild Bunch got one goal against Louie; their first goal against the Canucks in Lotusland since God played minor bantam. Louie can't stop a beach ball in Minnesota but has been lights-out against Minnie in Vancouver. Go figure.

Maybe the owner in Minnie is chanting, "Money is the root of all evil!"

Well, what then are Canadian GMs to do with all their stashed-away-for-a-rainy-day pennies?

The Canadian government has outlawed the making of more little one cent pieces. The Con Cops have done in the Coppers!

As of 4 February 2013, there are no more pennies. Whether from heaven, the government or anyone else who's in the coin minting or counterfeiting business, Canada is penniless, in a sense.

Yes, folks, up here in the Great White North, where people are hooped-to-the-gills in credit card payments, their now worthless penny-filled piggy banks are heading south of the border for guest appearances on the PBS Antiques Roadshow.

"Sorry pal, not worth a plugged nickel."

"You'll never make a dollar that way."

More to the point, what will the grand kids say when their grand dads opine, "Well, that's my 2 cents worth?"

"Grand Ma, I think Grand Pa has a faulty I-Pod." Certainly, they can't say he's lost his marbles! No one under 80 will know what marbles are, either.

Well, maybe I should stop on a dime before we go any further, or I'll lose all currency!

Let’s get back to those Wild players. Most of the NHL teams are at the 12 game mark of the season. Ergo, for those that don't have a calculator handy, in a 48 game season, we've reached the quarter point. How's it going for the Wild players?

I picked Minnesota to win the West. Right now, they're fighting for a play-off spot. To boot, they have one of the worst travel schedules in the NHL; good luck boys. What was I thinking? Smoking?

Now let's get something else out of the way right away. No more Leafs jokes people. Put them in with your penny collection, flush' em down the toilet, shush it, zip it. The Maple Leafs are in 4th place. If they can get their special teams going and win more at home, ya just never know! Well, don't plan the parade Leaf Nation. While the Leafs are currently 4th in the East, they're also only 5 points out of 12th.

These players are big! They’re mean, too. They won 6-0 over the Habs, right in the cradle, on HINC. There’s no contest, anywhere on the ice. So far the Leafs look like the only team in their division that might be able to do battle with Boston. Ya gotta beat those Darth Vader dorks in the alleys or start booking tee-off times.

As one of the early surprises, the Maple Leafs are in 4th place. If they can get their special teams going and win more at home, ya just never know! Well, don't plan the parade Leaf Nation. While the Leafs are currently 4th in the East, they're also only 5 points out of 12th.

Well, let's eat a little more crow shall we Clobber?

New Jersey may be the biggest surprise in the East. I rather forgot that they went to the Cup Final last year, hee, hee. Brodeur has been magnificent in nets. Will it last? We'll have to wait and see. Don't read too much into their weekend back-to-back victories over the Penguins. The latter were playing their 5th and 6th games in 8 and 9 nights. It was brutal. They were too pooped to pucker.

Now open wide Clobber and take an even bigger bite. Anaheim.

Holy Duck, did I ever misjudge those players. Although, Teemu Selanne, at 453-years-old, is their leading scorer, the Ducks would be nowhere without the best third line in hockey: Cogliano, Koivu, Winnik. Saku Koivu is having one of his best years in years, which is nice to see. Perhaps their MVP is 30-year-old rookie net-minder, Viktor Fasth, who at 6-0 has taken Jonas Hiller's starting job.

Speaking of MVPs, is there any argument that Craig Anderson is the most valuable player in the East? I didn't think so. Thomas Vanek of the Sabres leads the league in scoring but Buffalo is going nowhere fast.

Out West, one could pick a whole raft of players, such as Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit), Patrick Kane (Chicago) or Roberto Luongo (Vancouver).

As far as surprises re: slow starts, look no further than Los Angeles (4-5-2), last year's Stanley Cup winners. Their leading scorers, Carter and Kopitar, have 7 points. Let’s call it Stanley Cup hangover.

In the East, it would be the Washington Capitals. Dead last in the East. Ovie has 5 goals, 4 of them on the Power Play. No longer is he even a one-trick pony. However, after the GM stated that no changes were a-coming, the Caps won two in a row. Trending upward but look at that ladder to climb! With such a short season left, it is extremely doubtful that Ovie et al will make the dance. Well, if I'm not mistaken the Caps' owner was one of the 'hawks' behind the scenes re the lock out. Good on ya pal! Things aren't going so well either for the city's basketball team. Washington sports fans must be encouraged that Baseball is about to start. Go Nats.

Around the rest of the league, it's a mixed bag, isn't it? It’s hard to see any conclusive trends. Up and down for many teams, like San Jose, still in 4th but where has all that scoring gone? Jumbo Joe is back in Slumberland as is fellow sharpshooter, Patrick Marleau.

Ottawa seems to be weathering the storm of losing Space Cadet,  I had him in my pool, but their scoring has dropped-off as well and at 4-4-2 in their last ten, they hold the worst record in the league of current play-off bound teams. I'm still keeping the torch lit, but the Sens have to start winning a bit more.

I also have to note that after 13 games, Chicago has still not lost in regulation time. Cory Crawford is having a bounce-back season and Ray Emery is playing well in relief. He had one game stopping over forty-shots which one analyst described as maybe the best goaltending performance he'd ever seen! Nice to see a veteran with a history of multiple health issues doing well. Of course, there's that old adage about not getting even in kind but by winning. The Hawks absolutely hammered Phoenix the first time Hossa, et al, re-met Raffi 'Head Hunter' Torres.

Once again, speaking of money and what it'll get you, the sports reporter fraternity couldn't stop themselves from almost daily, if not hourly, non-reports on the looming trade of Canucks' Roberto Luongo; the “goalie controversy,” in Vancouver. To be fair, Canucks GM Mike Gillis has to share in, if not take all of the blame, for that ongoing debacle. I suppose it's hard not to talk about the situation when some reporter always has a microphone in your face. However, when things were going well, or bad, depending on one's pint of view, out would come the 'we're happy with two starting goalie' mantra. Then when the alleged done deal with Toronto, or Florida, wasn't forth coming as expected, the chant became something about a 'mystery' team's interest. When it was clear there was nothing at all looming, it became "we're not going to give him away" or "there's a lot of talk going on". And on and on it went. I had to shout "Just shut-the-f... up!" To be even more unfair, Gillis wouldn't be in this situation if he'd not openly put Louie on the market, or more so having forked himself with his own silver spoon by handing Roberto a 12 year contract extension, worth millions. No team is willing to take on that albatross. Contrary to most viewpoints, it is my contention that Brian Burke didn't lose his job in Toronto because he didn’t want to sign Louie; he lost his job because he did, if only to save his sorry ass from another losing season. It was obvious the new Brass in Toronto didn't want to lock-on to Louie since they were planning to dump Burke in any case. If ya get Louie and make the play-offs... how do you fire Burke at season's end? As Lady Macbeth opined "if it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly". Of course, Duncan, the King, went to a higher calling; Burkie wasn't kicked as far upstairs and has some face-saving stiff's job as "consultant."

In any case, from my standpoint, thank God Luongo has the final say about where and when he goes or if he goes. As the season is unfolding, Lucky Mike Gillis has shown himself right! The Canucks have a goaltending tandem that is the marvel of the league, no contest. The alleged two-headed coin that Coach Vigneault was tossing now changes to a normal coin, even a penny if he wishes. Both goalies, for the moment, seem happy. Both goalies want to win a Stanley Cup. Both goalies may be in the right place at the right time to get another shot at Hockey's Holy Grail.

There are some have not noted how both goalies have handled the situation. Moreover, Louie has been a model of maturity, not something many would have said even two years ago. Of course, he had to change his attitude, if only to show other teams, potential courters of his service, that he was no longer the ego-inflated, moody-prone player of the past.

Last night before the start of the Wild game, they captured Louie on camera talking to the rookie goalie for the Wild before his first NHL start. Dare I say, Louie need no longer have someone pump his tires; a class act throughout this “ordeal”, there he was pumping-up some scared kid's tires.

What can I say? He's looking more and more like the goalie in nets that Vancouver got from Florida. He has certainly been Vancouver's MVP to date. There’s no more flop-daddy, in front of the net, and he's even winning shoot-outs.

All this could change in a heartbeat but right now Canucklehead fanatics. I wouldn't trade him till the off-season, though I might still go with Schneider come play-off time.

Finally, one thing everyone has noted is the amount of, increase in, fights; many of them unnecessary. I find it completely ironic, if not disturbing, that while the IOC is taking Wrestling out of the Olympic Games, the NHL still allows Boxing in their games.

Once again, let us sing "and the big fool says to push on." How many players sitting in a darkened room, trying to remember who they are, does it take to change a light bulb?

Well, ending on a note of humour, did ya all see that Russian league referee pummeling a player who'd just purposefully tripped him? I hate to be inconsistent here but I'd love to see some NHL ref do that, just once. My pick would be Brad Marchant, of the Bruins, but I'm sure you have your favourite 'number one enemy'.

Keep your laundry clean.

Clobber Samson is a highly opinionated sports commentator, especially when it comes to Vancouver "Canucks," of the National Hockey League. Expect no balance in his columns. This is good.

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