LCS Hockey: Born Again
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June 19, 2019
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Just Ducky

Ryan Getzlaf
photo by Matthieu Masquelet

The Mighty Water Fowl are back.

After starting the season 1-6-0, Anaheim hit the road, embarking on a four-game trek through Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Columbus. Lesser teams would have crumbled.

But the veteran Ducks showed their championship pedigree, sweeping the trip and returning home to post a win over the filthy Red Wings before dropping a shootout loss to the Canucks. On Sunday, the Ducks kept the good times rolling with a 3-2 win over El Scorcho, lifting their record to 7-5-1.

Notice when the Ducks are losing I call them “old,” and when they’re winning I call them “veteran.” They don’t just give these fake journalism jobs to chimps, ya know.

Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry have spearheaded the charge. Through the first six games, they were positively dreadful, combining for two assists and a minus-10. Getzlaf missed one of the games on the trip, but he’s posted four goals and 13 points in his past six, while Perry has notched three goals and 14 points in his last seven.

Teemu Selanne has also found his scoring touch, putting up seven goals and 11 points in his last six. The Finnish Flash hung a hat trick on the filthy Wings and had a four-game goal streak snapped against Calgary.

But it will be interesting to see how the Ducks respond in the wake of Chris Pronger’s suspension. What’s that? I’m sorry; he didn’t get suspended for elbowing Pavel Datsyuk in the head? Hmm ha. Well, I guess he deserves a break. I mean, he has such a flawless reputation for clean play.

Despite a crushing 6-4 loss to the Hurricanes Sunday, the Toronto Maple Leafs are still having a swell season. The Leafs weren’t supposed to be bad. They were supposed to be apocalyptically bad. I’m talking “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Suck” bad. Yet Toronto boasts a solid 5-4-3 record. Yeah, I don’t get it either.

The Leafs don’t have a single guy averaging a point per game, and Nik Antropov – yes, that Nik Atropov – leads the squad with four goals. Vesa Toskala has been the workhorse in net, going 5-2-2 in his 10 starts, but his .895 save percentage is hardly evidence of a game-stealer.

Toronto came into the season wanting to lose in order to stockpile top draft picks. So naturally the Leafs will probably hover around .500 and sneak into the playoffs. When losers want to win, they lose. But when losers want to lose, look out.

I picked Marty Turco for the Vezina. I’m very good.

Turco is 3-5-2 with a pitiful .837 save percentage. He’s allowed at least three goals in nine of his 10 starts, and he’s yielded five or more goals five times. Last season, Turco allowed five or more goals only twice in 60 starts.

So what gives? Following Dallas’ 5-1 loss in Boston Saturday night, Turco was quick to share the blame, ripping his teammates for their shoddy defensive work in front of him. He complained they weren’t letting him see the puck. Once he calmed down, Turco came to his senses.

”I don't know, it might come down to a trust issue,'' said Turco to the Dallas Morning News. “I haven't played great, so maybe they don't trust me to make the saves. That, I can actually believe.''

Me too, Marty. Me too.

Alexander Semin
photo by Matthieu Masquelet

Our pals over at the Puck Daddy caused quite the buzz a few days back with an Alexander Semin interview. The Washington sniper, who’s off to a swell start with eight goals and 16 points in his first 10 games, ripped into one Mr. Sidney Crosby.

“What's so special about [Crosby]?” said Semin. “I don't see anything special there. Yes, he does skate well, has a good head, good pass. But there's nothing else. Even if you compare him to Patrick Kane from Chicago ... [Kane] is a much more interesting player. The way he moves, his deking abilities, his thinking on the ice and his anticipation of the play is so superb. 

“I think that if you take any player, even if he is ‘dead wood,’ and start promoting him, you'll get a star. Especially if he scores 100 points. No one is going to care about anyone else. No one is going to care whether he possesses great skill. Let's say you put someone in front of the net and let him deflect pucks in, and he scored 50 goals; everyone will say "Wow!" and then hand him a $10 million per year contract. That's what they like here.” 

Wow, where to begin? I guess I really have only one thing to say to Mr. Semin… THANK YOU!

No doubt, these comments will only serve to inspire Kid Crosby. The Pens and Caps don’t meet again until January 14. By then, Crosby will be leading the league in scoring, and Semin will still be, well, stupid.

I love this sort of stuff. We need more of it. Let’s get some blood feuds going. The Pens and Caps are shaping up to be dynamite theater. Crosby never had a dance partner. Malkin and Ovechkin are the true rivalry; they’re like Tom and Jerry without the frying pans. Now Kid Crosby finally has a mortal enemy. Good luck with that.

The one thing you don’t want to do is get Kid Crosby angry. You wouldn’t like Sid when he’s angry. Ask the Flyers.

Here’s my favorite quote from the Semin interview, though…

“And in Russia people like beautiful hockey, and not dump and chase. I just don't get it, why when a player is skating up the ice and no one is attacking him, he dumps the puck into the offensive zone and then chases it? Why would you do this if there is no one forechecking you?  I understand that if there is someone coming at you and you don't know whether you can get past that player, then you can dump the puck, pass it or shoot. But if not, then hold on to the puck, skate forward, create a chance.

“Why would you want to dump the puck and then chase after it and crash into the boards?  I don't know.”

While his love of “beautiful” hockey is certainly admirable, Semin needs to get his head straight if he ever hopes to win a Cup. What am I saying? Like the Capitals could ever win anything. That’s my bad.

But an Ovechkin/Semin-led Washington team will never beat a Crosby-led team in the postseason. It will never happen. Well, maybe if… nope, never gonna happen.

I can’t wait for that January 14th game in Pittsburgh. It’s going to be some wild, wild stuff. I just hope the Pens can sign a high school kid, otherwise Donald Brashear won’t have anyone to fight.

Semin is clearly an idiot. But I have to admit, I’ve been painfully frustrated with Kid Crosby this season. His game simply isn’t progressing.

I said this would be the year his shot totals would take a quantum leap and, as a result, he’d threaten 50 goals. Well, not so much.

Crosby was trigger happy early, registering five or more shots in five of his first eight outings, but he’s reverted to form lately, hitting the net just eight times in the past four. He’s averaging 3.33 shots per contest, which is only slightly ahead of his 3.29 career mark. As a result, Crosby has a mere three goals in his first 12 games.

That’s not good enough. If Sid wants to be the best, he has to produce more goals. Period.

And the reason Sid doesn’t score more is simple. He’s using inferior equipment. Straight blades went out with the Hula Hoop. There’s a reason Stan Mikita broke out the blowtorch.

I know I’ve said all this before, but I’m just going to keep writing the same damn article until someone listens.

Crosby has a bullet wrist shot. But because of his straight blade, he simply can’t snap it like the Ovechkins and Kovalchuks of the world. When you use a straight blade, everything is a chopping, pushing motion. There isn’t the same explosion off the stick. Accuracy also suffers, particularly upstairs. Goaltenders even have an easier time reading the shot.

The only advantage of a straight blade is on the backhand. And the minute Kid Crosby scores 40 goals a year on his backhand, I’ll gladly shut the hell up.

It’s never too late to mend. It would take Sid about a week to get used to a curve. It’s an adjustment he must make if he wants to reach his full potential as a goal-scorer. If Tiger Woods can change his golf swing, Crosby can put a curve on his stick.

I’m tired watching Sid blow through defenders only to push a shot into the goalie’s pads. Right now, he’s a fast Adam Oates.

The truth hurts.

LCS Hockey: Born Again
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