Sunday 25 Sep 2016

NHL Playoffs '13-3
Bob Stark

"If it were done when 'tis done, then t’were well it were done quickly."

Macbeth. Act 1, Scene 7

Well, perhaps not exactly what Alfie intended to say in his post-game media scrum after Game 4 when the Pens hammered the Sens 7-3 to take a commanding 3-1 game lead in their second Round series, but give him credit for honesty and openness, something, sadly, more than missing in many of our modern day leaders? Regrettably for both him and I, in expressing the thought that the Sens were done like yesterday's meat loaf, he proved himself a better predictor than the Clobber for Round 2 series. Having been perfect in Round 1, at 8-8, the results of the my 2nd Round pontifications indicate a more humbling 2-2 record when the skates, sweaters, and sticks were hung, and for some, the golf clubs were taken out other garage.

Alfie forgot to read the leadership statement Bible wherein Napoleon once opined, "A leader is a dealer in hope.”

Well do not despair Alfie, Rob Ford must have been dyslexic or incapacitated in a substantive way when he read that quote, mistaking "hope" for a word that rhymes with it, double entendre intended.

The infamous Mayor of Hogtown, who even if he can no longer see his own shoes, keeps putting one foot in front of the other into the muddy mucky side ditches, as he rocks and rumbles in and out of Toronto City Hall calmly chanting his daily mantra "business as usual,” no doubt. Meanwhile various trusted minions are jumping ship faster than rats on amphetamines. Ford simply won't come clean over allegations that he's been hobnobbing at night with crack cocaine dealers and strutting the streets like a wild turkey recently reprieved by the U.S. president on Thanksgiving weekend.

Speaking of not coming clean, how 'bout the so-called Senate Scandal in the Nation's Capital. In that regard, J. Paul Getty instructed that, "the employer generally gets the employees he deserves.” I would need another hour to list the shady characters employed by our Prime Ad-Minister. The fellow who's getting a lot of ink and camera time, when the media can find him is Senator Mike Duffy. He only opens his mouth to change shoes, but seems to avoid just telling us what he and he alone knows what’s what. I suspect, at this point, Duffy is in the grand tradition of scumbag politicos taking one for Steve and the team. Like dogs off their leash, the canine media keep rushing to hear what the Grand Duke of Dufferdom has to say about it all. Follow the smell. The odor emanating from Mike the Skunk is so foul it is distracting the media mutts from the source garbage can, the PMO.

To help clarify further, here's my summary of Mikey's actions or statements to date.

Con-miester Duffy knows what he knows, hee hee. He won't tell what he knows to everyone who already knows what he knows, until there's an investigation into what he knows and what he doesn't know or until he is told what he knows and what he doesn't know by the Prime Ad-minister who, when the shit hit the fan, bolted for Peru and Columbia, where he was engaged in some shady trade deals that will further line the pockets of corporate cronies who continue to ravage the environment, which is looking more and more like a junkie's arm, in the name of progress and prosperity.

Harper, for his part, said that he was sorry for not doing anything wrong. Then, next day, says he's frustrated and angry for not being more than just sorry for not doing anything about something he had nothing to do with and knew nothing about until, under the scrutiny of the media deer-in-the-headlight coverage, it looked like he should have known something about something as well as about someone in his own office, a fellow who may or may not know anything about what he may or may not have said to the two Cons on the Senate Committee over-seeing and deliberating on the Deloitte's Audit Report into Mr. Duffy's unbalanced inter-provincial expense accounts, and a $90,000 discrepancy, which, of course, the aforementioned fellow, Mr. Nigel Wright, wrote, in secret and on his own, a cheque for, so that Mr. Duffy could pay-back Canadian tax-payers, even though he continually stated he had done nothing wrong, and for which the PM, before he was sorry, angry, and frustrated, lauded Mr. Duffy's behaviour, along with endorsing the solid character of his main man, Mr. Wright, despite the latter breaking of the law, which, of course, Mr. Harper knew nothing about until and, well, the Cons, by weeks end, were all saying "TGIF" and hoping that after summer 'recess,' a good word, eh, where the little kiddies in the sandbox get to go home and write their memoirs, all this nonsense over accountability will just simply fade away, and so that the PM can re-set his moral compass and teach his children about 'right' and 'wrong', while giving the Tory Blue green light to more Justin Trudeau attack ads.

The failure of current leaders obviously does not stop at the border. 

Look South, where Obama finally comes clean about using Drones which he admits may or may not be legal, and which raise important moral questions, but he's gonna blast away innocent lives in any case cause that's what American presidents have always done, and gotten away with, in the name of freedom and democracy, cause you don't fuck with power you bleeding heart fucking liberals, and besides, I'm the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln, whom I love to quote, in order to protect my image which is always programmed to make me look like I'm on the side of the average American even while I'm hiring ex-Monsanto and Goldman-Sachs executives to advise me on how to feed and shelter you and keep you safe from the real bad guys. And hey isn't Michelle the hottest babe this side of the Potomac since Martha Washington wrapped herself in the 13 Star flag and screamed "come and put me up your pole Georgie Boy!"? Another great speech, eh kids?

All to say, God love Alfie!

In any case, let the Round 3 NHL Playoff games begin!

Two factors become more and more important with each series. There is, as usual, the goaltending factor.

Neither Rask (Boston), Crawford (Chicago), Vokuon (Pittsburgh) have been this deep before. Marc Andre Fleury has won a Cup but he's been opening the bench door for the Penguins ever since his meltdowns in the First Round which almost cost Pittsburgh that series. He's not likely to see any ice unless it's in a glass in a bar.

That brings us to last year's champs, the Kings and Jonathan Quick. JQ is the reason, again, that the LaLaLand boys are still standing, having survived very tough, long series against the Blues and then the Sharks. JQ was the Conn Smythe trophy winner last season. He's heading for another one, if he keeps playing as he has so far.

Conclusion: Overall, L.A. Kings have the advantage between the pipes.

Thesecond factor is, as we have been discussing above, leadership. Captain oh my Captain! Let's have a closer look.

BOSTON BRUINS versus PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

Boston is led by Zdeno Chara; Pittsburgh by Sid the Kid. They'll be seeing a lot of each other. Sid decided to take off his jaw protection device. Now, that's courage! Well, if you've seen Boston of late, one could call it stupid. Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic are licking their chops. The Big Z is also not adverse to hacking and whacking. Boston is probably wise, should be wise enough to know that you can't sit in the penalty box, well for very long, against the Pens. The Pens are replete with alternative leaders: Morrow and Iggy for the Pens. Boston has a somewhat lost and lonely Jagr. The Bruins may have a slightly stronger forward group. That Bruins fourth line is terrific. Boston is also, again, slightly better defensively, on the blue-line. Home-ice advantage doesn't seem to matter to the Bruins. They're quite happy to lose anywhere as long as they get to four wins before the other teahm. In the end, this one shapes up like the Canucks-Bruins tilt in the Stanley Cup Final a couple of years ago. The flashy players, with the leaky goalie against the guys who revolted against the British over tea for God's sake. By whatever means necessary! 

One other factor comes into play. The National Anthem; ya gotta give the edge to Boston and its fearless singer Rene Rencourt. I'm hoping for the Bruins to host their three scheduled home games just too see Rene murder the anthem but in fine vaudevillian fashion.

The only other thing one can look at is the historical record. The Bruins almost blew their first round series against the Leafs but survived in one of the gutsiest come-backs in Game 7 league history.  After a quick turn-around, they swept aside the Rangers in five games, with two or three key players nursing wounds. Pittsburgh survived a gamely Islanders team once they pulled the plug on Fleury. They then - somewhat - embarrassed a very shaky and obviously still hurting Senators team. At times, in that series, the Pens looked very powerful, scoring at will. The Pens can score, but can they defend is the big question.

In the end, I think this one comes down to that first factor, goaltending. Both goalies will be nervous Nellies; who knows we might see Marc Andre, again. Vokuon is a throwback to maybe Hasek-style tending, just get the job done. Rask is a little more in the modern butterfly technique style. Rask also has a way of bouncing back from poor games. he just seems the surer pick.

Boston in 7 games.


LA KINGS versus CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Although we can square-off the Captain factor here as well, it is for different reasons. 'Captain Serious' Jonathan Toews, in Chicago, and Dustin Brown for the Kings have both been very disappointing to date. In other leadership areas, Chicago's head coach Joe Quenneville, although pulling the right levers in Game 7, looked completely confused most of the Detroit series. As well, he didn't seem to have control over his soldiers. It took Brent Seabrook to calm down the aforementioned Jonathan Toews when the latter went to the penalty box, again, in Game 6. Patrick Kane seemed to be waiting for Game 7 of the Cup Final so he could score the winning goal, again, like he did three years ago. All and all, the Blackhawks have not looked like the President's Trophy winner, so far.

On the other side of the equation, Kings main man, Darryl Sutter, seems like he's doing Kudalini yoga and/or on some happy Beverly Hills house wife drug. What Me Worried: the difference here is that Joe Q in Chicago is not adverse to looking like he's going to blow a major body fuse as he walks up and down behind the bench chastising his troops. Sutter, in his post-game interviews, rambles and mumbles such that no one can really understand what he's saying. Ergo: his players probably just ignore him and happily do their own thing. Besides, Daffy Darryl has Big Bird, Larry Robinson, helping him out, leaving the former to grimace and groan behind the bench, looking at time like Grandpa Munster. Get that man a cape!

The Kings have a lot more sandpaper in their line-up. The Hawks have more goal-scorers. In many ways this is akin to the Eastern series. One team built for speed, the other for comfort... comfort for the Kings in the fact that they have the best goalie in the league behind them.

Rightly or wrongly, the last three Cups were won by grit. Even Pittsburgh four years ago was a much grittier team that the current one. Unless the Hawks explode offensively and keep it all on a high-octane level game to game, which they are quite capable of doing, successfully, the Kings will clog-up the centre and bore them to death. Cory Crawford will have to be air-tight; no way he can out-play Quick but match him and ya got a chance.

LA Kings in 6 game

Hook-up the barbecue spit.

Bob Stark is a musician, poet, philosopher and couch potato. He spends his days, as did Jean-Paul Sarte and Albert Camus, pouring lattes and other adult beverages into a recycled mug, bearing a long and winding crack. He discusses, with much insight and passion, the existentialist and phenomenological ontology of the Vancouver 'Canucks,' a hockey team, "Archie" comic books and high school reunions. In other words, Bob Stark is a retired public servant living the good life on the wrong coast of Canada.

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