Friday, May 15, 2015

An update on a tradition...

It is not known exactly when it started, but Wikipedia states that hockey Hall of Famer, Denis Potvin, described it happening around the 80's when the New York Islanders would play five games in the first round. Since then, it stuck as a tradition amongst NHL players during the post-season run to the Cup. We all know this tradition as simply being called: The Playoff Beard. 

Now, players aren't the only ones who take part in this tradition; many fans have joined in. The rule is this: as long as your team is in the mix for Lord Stanley's hardware, you don't shave (it's also a part of sports superstition). Some beards that grow are mighty and true. While some are... well, worth a pat on the should for effort. Personally, I've joined in this tradition. Alright, I'll be completely honest, I've never been genetically blessed with the ability of growing a full manliest of man beards. One post season (which saw the Ducks get taken out by the Nashville Predators), my father saw what I was attempting to do to my beautiful punim and stated, "Georgie. Believe me, it's not going to happen. I know because I've tried". Even though as a young lad, I remembered my grandpappy on my mother's side having one full stache. Unfortunately, I took my dad's side when it came to the lack of facial hair. However, I saw fit to attempt it with all my might! And so far, this season is the season to have at it! 

Before this season's Stanley Cup Playoffs began, I did something that I hadn't done in a little over a year: I took my facial skin down to what I call "Baby Face Georgie" status. During this past year, I kept a little facial hair and I really dug it. In this tradition, one must start fresh and so I did. Thankfully, no trimmer has touched what little I've been able to grow due to the fact that after two rounds, Anaheim are still in the run. Being that this post is mainly about the Playoff Beard and where I stand, the status has gone from "Baby Face Georgie", through "Pathetically Pre-pubescent", and is now at what I am calling "Thunderously Tween"!

Okay, so it's not as full as what I would rather have and dreamed of. I mean, I'm not quite at the point of where one would look at me and immediately think to themselves, "Whoa. That dude must chop trees for a living" - BUT it's coming in! I've observed that it's not coming in full, rather growing long and missing connections. Underneath my chin, you'll plainly see that it's filled to be one curly mound of madness which is enough that my family have been begged me to shave. Hey! It's my Playoff Beard, I do what I want! And as long as my team are still in the race, grow it, I will.

Alright, let me run my quick update on the Ducks' progress (which I'm sure you all would rather read about). Anaheim were able to douse the Calgary Flames in 5 games, and were shaking hands with their opponents inside the Honda Center making it 22 consecutive wins at home against Calgary. Ramo would continue to be the starting netminder after Hiller's atrocious attempt in game 1. Ramo was strong and although the Flames were able to amount a comeback with winning game 3 in overtime, they would be no match for the Ducks. Anaheim now get set to face the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final. This will be the first time that Anaheim have reached the third round since winning the Cup in the 2006-2007 season, and the battle will be a difficult one. Chicago is one of the leagues fastest teams and are known for their offensive abilities that can definitely support their goalie, Corey Crawford. Crawford didn't have the best first round, and was chased by their opponent (Nashville Predators). The Blackhawks would take round one in 6 games before sweeping the Minnesota Wild in round two. So far, many "experts" have placed Anaheim as the underdogs and have predicted Chicago to win this upcoming series. Once again, I do not predict. Anaheim's first two opponents were nowhere as experienced as Chicago, but Anaheim are up to the task. In my most humble opinion, Crawford is overrated. If Anaheim can shut down the top line comprised of Saad-Toews-Hossa whilst keeping an eye on that pesky Pat Kane kid, they'll have success. Both teams defensive units are very mobile and one Frandersen will have to outshine Crawford. Anaheim will also look to counter Chicago's speed with size. The Blackhawks are indeed a smaller team with skill, but Anaheim are a bigger team and an equally skillful one at that. 

In the end, I will be hoping to move out of "Thunderously Tween" and well into the "Oh crap! I guess that isn't just dirt on your face" Playoff Beard status. Make it so, Anaheim. Make it so.

Go Ducks!

Monday, May 4, 2015

The story so far...

Detroit Red Wings legend, Steve Yzerman, scores goal number 692 (which would be his last before officially retiring months later). Martin Scorsese's film, The Departed, is released on the big screen and NBC's 30 Rock debuts on the smaller one. The iPhone is one year away from being released to the public. And finally, my car was stolen, I was working at Disneyland, and was a hell of a lot fatter.

What do these things have in common with the Calgary Flames?

It's simple: that would be the year that the Flames would last win a game in Anaheim, and that year happened to be 2006. 

The Calgary Flames were looking to change the fact that it had been nine years since winning a game against the Ducks inside their beloved barn located in Anaheim. Since that series in round one of the 2005-2006 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, Calgary has come up empty handed when leaving what is now known as the Honda Center, and after games one and two of this years second round, nothing's changed. In game one, Jonas Hiller was called to be the starter against the team he played with for 7 years. Hiller seemed to be excited, he appeared ready for absolute revenge. To show the team that they made a mistake not re-signing him after one could arguably described to as "did him dirty" at the end of his last season. Hiller was motivated.


Well, good ol' Jonas was chased by that former team after he let in 3 goals on 14 shots in the opening game, with Kari Ramo replacing him - so much for sweet revenge. Anaheim would go on to score 3 more goals, conceding 1 flukey goal mid-way through the third period. Final score of game one: 6-1.
As I sat in my seat, fortifying the impression of my bum to the cushion, I came to the conclusion of, "Ok. Ducks are going to win, but man, this is muy ridiculoso". 

I then wondered what would come of game two. Surely, a walloping like that wouldn't happen again. Or would it?

Prior to that second game, Calgary's bench lord (Bob Hartley), announced that it would be Ramo in net (who plays an aggressive style which differs from Hiller). He challenges players, but his weakness is that he sacrifices the space behind the net making it easier for players on the opposite side to score. Ramo would make better saves on great scoring chances in the first period of game two. It's easy to say that if he hadn't, the first 20 mins would have ended with his team losing about 0-3, but it would end 0-1 with Anaheim only taking seven and a half minutes to open the scoring. In game two, a better Calgary team appeared, but couldn't muster up enough offense to get one past Frandersen. The Ducks would score two more in the third, and Freddy would stand tall getting the shutout. Final score of game two: 3-0.

With Anaheim up two games, the series now swings to Calgary with the Flames hoping to turn it around and finally win a game or two where the Red Mile lives. The Calgary players have stated that they're looking forward to playing at home because they can thrive off the home crowd who will be there cheering them on loud and proud. Hmm, where have I heard that before in this playoff season? I'm drawing a blank. It's like I'm suddenly seeing "white", I'm having a hard time remembering, blasted old age! Either way, Anaheim will hope to take the Calgarians out of it and shut them up. It can be done, the Ducks just have to do it. They had better because if they don't, I'm gonna have to be a terrible son and leave my mom stranded at some restaurant while I watch game 5 which happens to land on Mother's Day (if necessary). 

My inquiry is this: Kiprusoff gonna come out of retirement or will tops stay on? We'll see just how desperate the Calgary Flaming Wee-Wees will be.

Go Ducks!