Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Whew. The Devils are in. I never doubted it for a second. (Ha.)

Everyone in New Jersey can breathe a sigh of relief, unless they're near the chemical refineries in Elizabeth, where I don't recommend breathing at all. Now Weekes can take on Boston tonight, Marty can sit back with a box of Entenmann's chocolate donuts, and everyone (except the rest of the league, who doesn't want to face Marty) can relax. It's going to be all right. A lot can change in the next 3 games, but they're currently in the 4/5 matchup with . . . the Rangers. (Uh oh.)

I hate the way teams dog it with 5 minutes left in regulation in a tie game. This is what seemed to happen in the Devils' 2-1 OT win on the Island last night, and the Devils ended it by scoring about 14 milliseconds into the extra frame. How annoying. Joey MacDonald stopped 45 of 47 shots for the Isles . . . wait, who? Is he occasional Isles play-by-play man Jiggs MacDonald's son? Just like seeing a young pitcher for the first time, the Devils couldn't figure out how to beat him until going through the lineup a few times. Sure, it was nice to see them shoot more, but that doesn't automatically mean they're going to score more.

Other headlines: Buffalo still alive for playoffs after shootout win. Is it still April Fools Day? I thought the Flyers were suspended and the Sabres were in the playoffs . . . ? So they've have figured out how to win in the shootout? Now I've heard everything! Maybe someone finally told them it counts the same as a real win, because thanks to Maxim for Men's skills competition goal they are still alive. On the other had, no thanks to his severe dropoff in scoring this year--they might have won enough games already to make it elementary.

BTW, let's take a look at the main Sabre offenders: Maxim and Vanek.

2006-07 Maxim: 23-38-61, +19, 56 games (1.09 PPG)
2007-08 Maxim: 10-18-28, -14, 54 games (0.52 PPG)

2006-07 Vanek: 43-41-84, +47, 82 games (1.02 PPG)
2007-08 Vanek: 33-28-61, -5, 80 games (0.76 PPG)

This illustrates, at least to me, that these two aren't exactly "gamers". Maxim's point production has really fallen off, but how about Vanek's plus-minus? That's a precipitous drop. I'm guessing that the harsh reality of living in Buffalo, with its utter lack of Eurodisco nightlife and acid-washed Levis, is really starting to take its toll on these guys. Meanwhile, Derek Roy has been worth his weight in gold, having a career year with 32-46-78, +14 in 76 games. Regardless of the number crunching, if the Kapital Komrades stop winning games, they might have a shot. So the Sabres are alive . . . just like the Kansas City Royals are still alive for that World Series run.

Montreal has won their division for the first time since 1991-92, as Ottawa continues their choke-job (if they miss the playoffs after starting 15-2, that would be something). However, they have some serious injury issues, and a rookie goaltender, going into the playoffs. I will be visiting Montreal the first weekend in May for a bachelor party (CLUB SUPER SEXE!) and I predict that they will no longer be playing hockey by then. Just a hunch.

In the "dead" column (CBS Sportsline still has them listed as "alive"--WAKE UP!): the Edmonton Oilers, whose milkshake has been finally sucked dry (SPOILER ALERT!) after losing 3-2 to their not-so-neighborly Alberta nemesis, thanks to "two Calgary flukes" (as the Sun puts it, the big babies). They were this season's ultimate tease as they kept their fans (falsely) believing they still had a shot through 81 games and 15 (HOLY CRAP!) shootout wins. At least the Edmonton Sun has a contingency plan to keep their readers occupied: "In Tomorrow's Paper, Tanya Enberg talks naughty in Sex Files." That should thaw things out nicely.

All of this playoff points race nonsense is exactly what Bettman and the league wants: hype. The cartoonish points system that gives away "charity" points gives the illusion that your team is still in it (or about to be eliminated). Like a stripper giving you a lap dance at a club, she makes it seem like she's really into you, and you foolishly think you have a chance with her . . . but at the end of the night you're just tired and frustrated and want your money back. But you might as well lead the fans on to the bitter end, because more fans who believe = more fans who show up at the games = more money. As you know, money based on bullshit is just as easy to spend as money well earned. The lesson is, as always, Bettman sucks.

A faithful reader (thanks, Ashley!) has made me aware of Bon Cop, Bad Cop, a 2006 "Canadian comedy-thriller buddy cop film" (is this a popular genre?) wherein a Quebecois cop and an English Canadian cop relunctantly join forces to solve a string of hockey related murders, which sounds like "Rush Hour" meets "Strange Brew" (okay, that's the only other "Canadian" movie I know). The pro hockey league in the movie is loosely based on the NHL and several characters are thinly veiled parodies of real life figures including "commissioner Harry Buttman", who is allegedly portrayed as weasly as his real life counterpart. I have no idea where I could find this movie outside of Canada (maybe I could borrow it next time I'm in Nova Scotia?) and I'm sure some of the jokes would be lost on me, but it sounds funny. I like the tagline "Shoot First, Translate Later".

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