Friday 21 Oct 2016

NHL Playoffs 2014: 3
Bob Stark

"Oh Danny Boy the pipes, the pipes are calling from glen to glen and down the mountain side..."

Lyrics by Frederic Weatherly

At one song writing session I led a few years ago, I had two public school teachers in the class. One had been retired for a year; the other was about to retire. At a break in the proceedings, the about-to-be-retired teacher turned to the retiree and asked, "Tell me, when do the bells stop ringing?"

I thought of that again watching the Boston and Montreal series. I couldn't help but think how the sound of pucks dinging off the goal pipes will plague many Bruin players, all summer long. September, I guess, is when those dings will stop.

Goalies always tap their goal posts, little taps on the 'back' of their 'pals.' That's a friendship, a bond, few mere mortals understand; but the sound of that distinctive 'ding' is music to the ears to net-minders. It is amazing; sometimes, how close a player comes scoring, with the goalie at their mercy, only to skate away with their ears and their egos ringing.

Taking nothing away from Montreal's 'upset' win over the Bruins or the excellent goal-tending of Price, the hockey gods just seemed to want the series to turn out this way. Boston had finally crossed-over the line. Their tactics of grab and stab no longer overlooked. Go ahead and goon it up boys, the hockey gods will penalize you by spinning pucks off posts.

The chest-thumping 'Wolf of Wall Street' celebration, quite frankly, were childish and embarrassing at the professional level. Well, the Wolves of Wall Street are now sitting in their hot tubs, Gorillas in the Mist.

Good goalies get lucky. It may be a Zen thing. In Game 6, in Los Angeles, the Ducks were all over the Kings trying desperately to tie the game. Jonathan Quick, completely screened when a shot, from the point, made by a Duck defenceman came. He made no move, still searching for the little black thingy. The puck went right into his open glove! I don't think I've ever seen quite like that before, redefining the concept that 'you have to be good to be lucky.'

Well, at the other end, the Ducks had a turnstile concept of starting goalie. True, Andersen was 'the guy,' until he got hurt, but ya never had the perception, all year actually, that Anaheim had a declared 'numero uno'. Hiller lost his confidence under Boudreau and will seek employment elsewhere, next season. The same might be the case for the coach!

I have to agree, with my friend Peter, that it is refreshing to see the 'smurfs' of Montreal, using speed and skill and smarts, knock-off the beefy, slower, combatant Bruins. In that sense, we now have a third-round series that should be a delight, as New York is very similar in style of play.

Out West, the Kings, in the final game, used the same strategy. Skate, pass and shoot. The Ducks defence looked like they were wearing toboggans, not skates. See ya! A closely contested series turned into a rout. Now, we have a third round between teams that are also very similar, both can play any style. Ya wanna go goon, we'll go goon. You want to play straight up, no chaser; we're good to go with that, too.

Let's not discount the mystique of Ginette Reno! As Kate Smith singing 'God Bless America' in Philly to spur the Flyers on, Reno seems to have the magic dust to sprinkle on a Montreal player at anthem's end, the chosen one going out and scoring the first goal. Spooky, hockey gawds, do you say? Reno gets four tries, as Montreal has home ice advantage for the first time in the 2014 playoffs. Olay! Olay!


Speaking of mystique and hockey gawds, will they affect the Big Apple boys? Rallying around St. Louis, the sad situation of his mom dying, it’s a miracle-on-the-ice, ripe for one of those “Movie of the Week” weepies. My mystique is stronger than your mystique. In the real world, it'll be Price versus King Henrik’ Canada versus Sweden, again. King Henrik has had his issues at the Bell Centre - his own ghost in the machine. Keep your abacus close by. It'll be a battle of game-saving stops and 'dings' of the friendly posts.

Montreal in 7

A repeat from last the 2013 Western Conference Final, which Chicago won 4-1. The Kings had a rough road last year to get that far. It's been no picnic this year either, facing elimination six times, yet winning. It’s almost the definition of 'champs'. The Hawks had a brutal series in outlasting the Blues before knocking off the annoying Wild in six. The extra rest and home-ice advantage may be just the ticket for the Chicago gang to beat the Kings again this year. If you buys into the prediction Montreal survives the Rangers, who'd you like to see in a Stanley Cup Final? Well, whatever happens in either series, it is looking like it'll be a delightful finale this year. The Hawks looked less convincing to me than did the Kings, in their first two series. Are they as deep as LA?


I think they go into this series as the underdogs, that is, the third and fourth lines, have a slightly better defensive core. Thus, again, it may come down to goal tending, but, and it's a big but, the mystique factor again. If there's one player who seems to show-up at the right moment it's Jonathan Toews. I'm thinking it may come down to Jonathan. Maybe it’s Quick versus Toews. The Kings got in trouble in both series, but found a way to win, repeatedly. That is quite remarkable. Chicago is not a team to mess around with in the same way. A bad start or mid-series slump by LA means Hawks move on.

Chicago in 6

Whew! Ten minutes to puck drop! I made it!


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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