Thursday 27 Oct 2016

NHL Final 2013
Bob Stark

“You can present the material, but you can't make me care.”

Tom Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

On the eve of the first game of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, I wonder how much I may be pissing against a wall here. I have done that before, literally, in stopping short of the bathroom, concluding "what the hell, may as well yank her out right here since I'm gonna miss the toilet bowl in any case.” I thought that I was abnormal until I found out my brother Stomper had a penchant for watering the living room drapes. Dare I suggest then that I was relieved to learn that my behaviour was quite possibly a mutually induced genetic malfunction?

Of course, in this instant, I use the phrase - pissing against the wall - metaphorically. I know for many Canucks fans the prospect of a Boston-Chicago finale is a bit like a choice between going ten rounds with either Mike Tyson or Lorena Bobbitt. In one instance, you're going to lose an ear; in the other, losing something a bit more useful for pissing anywhere!

Why bother.

Despite Duncan Keith's elbow to Daniel Sedin's noggin near the end of last season, I somewhat out grew the historic rivalry of Vancouver and Chicago. Still, I'm not ready to forgive or forget the hatchet job the Bruins did to the Canucks a couple of years ago in the Final, as the zoo zebras stood around and watched the goon-ery unfold repeatedly. Some wounds take a bit longer to heal.

No matter how you might feel personally about the finalists, this could be a classic series. One for the ages, as the old adage goes. An 'original six" match-up, the first since 1979.

Let's be more concise. There is no surprise here. Given what has transpired in the 2013 play-offs, can anyone seriously argue against the fact that the best two teams are still standing?

In all previous series, what we thought a given teams' weaknesses came home to roost. Sure, the Kings were suffering serious disabilities in their battle with the Hawks, but most pundits suggested that would be the case for LA after having to face the Blues and then the Sharks in their first two rounds. Chicago may want to remember that in their prep work for the relatively injury-free Bruins.

As for the Bruins, there only adversity was the surprising Toronto Maple Leafs, who had the Beantown Boys on the ropes in Game 7, of the first round, and then collapsed and fell faster than the Hindenburg fall. In that regard however, as I told my pal Peter, should the Bruins win the Cup, they should do the right thing and have their parade in Toronto!

Here are some 'facts' to consider. These two original six teams haven't met since 15 October15th 2011. It’s thus even harder to compare and contrast strengths and weaknesses. The Bruins are an excellently constructed team, built for the play-offs. One advantage the Hawks may have is better overall team speed than any of the teams Boston has faced, except maybe for them Leafs.

The conventional wisdom going into Round 3 was that, maybe, the Bruins defence would be susceptible due to Pittsburgh's high-octane offence. Well, as Sid the Kid said, the Pens got chances but Tuukka Rask was too good to beat. The Bruins net-minder's numbers are hard to ignore. As TSN's Darren Dreger said, Rask is four wins away from the Conn Smythe trophy.

Chicago net-minder Cory Crawford will have to maintain his excellent performance and possibly be even better if the Hawks are to be circling the rink with the Cup o'er their heads. When a team, Boston, can shutout Malkin and Crosby what chance do Kane and other Blackhawks have?

Kane, except for the last game, has looked ordinary. On the other hand, he can dominate and maybe he's been on cruise control. He loves the limelight. Most teams couldn't get two goals past Jonathan Quick. Kane scored three in one game, the last one.

The Hawks have also won seven of their last eight games and came from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Red Wings. Perhaps more than Pittsburgh and all previous competitors of the Bruins, Chicago is deeper upfront and on the blue line. While not as gritty as either Boston or the team that won the Cup a few years ago, they do have Bickell who counters Lucic. Dave Bolland, no shrinking violet, may show Brad the Cad Marchand what it really takes to win. Then again the Bruins will try to unsettle Duncan Keith, he of the very short fuse.

Of course, the unknown factor is the referring. If the zoo zebras allow Boston their usual mugging attacks after the whistle, it could be lights out for Chicago. They're not quite as easily frustrated as maybe Pittsburgh showed in their short series. Chicago is also terrific on PK and getting better on the PP. If it comes down to Specialty teams, ya must give the Hawks the advantage.

It likely will however come down to the goalies and ya must give Rask the edge; he has few if any weaknesses and his defence is very good at puck support on any rebounds.

The only other factor is whether you favour Rene Rencourt singing the National Anthem in The Gardens. Obviously, the singer in Chicago, singing the Star Spangled Banner, would make even Noah Chomsky join the Marines. Then again, maybe you'd rather hear that Chelsea Dagger song after every Hawks goal in the Madhouse on Madison.

Well, here's another quote I found revealing, given my admitted bias against the Bruins.

“After all, if you do not resist the apparently inevitable, you will never know how inevitable the inevitable was,” said Terry Eagleton in “Why Marx was Right.”

Overall, Boston should be the favourite here. There is an inevitability about it all ever since that final Leafs game.

Since I'm a Western boy, who enjoys pissing against the wall, I'm picking the Hawks. Just to go completely outside the box on ya, I'll say Chicago in 5.

This one could really be worth a watch folks. Two excellent teams going head-to-head, likely in more than one way!

You think you can dance, do ya.

Talk about reality television.

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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Well, Well
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