Friday, April 18, 2008

Not Worthy of Wrapping Fish: Washington Post

First, those idiots can one of their best and brightest (my own full disclosure: I have never read a single piece Ape's written in the Post, but his stuff on KSK is brilliant) for idiotic reasons.

Then, they let Mike Wise loose on the hockey-loving world. I know that this topic has been covered (better) by The 700 Level, but I feel the need to vent my spleen on this moron. I was hoping that my attendance at the game last night (more on that later) would be the catharsis that I needed to start the forgiving process to Mr. Wise, but it actually has only fired me up more.

Let's parse this "newspaper article" together, shall we?

Can't Gary Bettman pay off someone to ensure his meal ticket for the next decade advances to the second round? Doesn't Tim Donaghy live close by? Does he still have his whistle? Can he skate?


Seriously? This is how a published sportswriter at a major American newspaper starts off an article covering the NHL Playoffs? He asks if the commissioner of the league can bribe an official?

The Washington Capitals and their star Alex Ovechkin, the closest thing the NHL has to Kobe and LeBron, need some kind of help if they are going to genuinely awaken America to their game again.

All the pretty goals the playoff push promised? If Ovechkin can't shake loose soon, this Eastern Conference quarterfinal might go to the dogs soon.


So Ovechkin is soooooo good that he is both Kobe AND LeBron? And if he's good enough to embody the skills of not one but two NBA superstars why does he need help from the commissioner bribing officials to get "some kind of help." Do Kobe and LeBron get that kind of help from Stern? Seriously, I'm asking here. I hate the NBA so I have no idea if they do. And if they do, how does that make it right?

He then goes on to say that the "playoff push," which I always assumed happened prior to the actual playoffs, promised "pretty goals?" What the hell does that even mean? Aren't the playoffs when, unofficially, refs stop calling the clutching and grabbing so tightly? Aren't the playoffs when teams supposedly step up their D's to bring the hammer down on players only capable of "pretty goals?" Isn't that why a guy like John Druce scores nothing in the regular season but becomes Wayne F'in Gretzky in the playoffs?? Oh, and Mr. Wise, he played for your Caps if you're wondering. Check 89-90 when he scored 8 goals in 45 regular season games and 14 goals in 15 playoff games. One of the best underlying story lines of any Stanley Cup Playoff season is which guy will step up on which team. It isn't about "pretty goals."

The tenor of this rugged series is terrible news for hockey progressives everywhere, the way the Flyers have punked a nice bunch of free skaters who train in Ballston and used to be among the most feared offensive teams in the NHL.


Hockey progressives = idiot fans who liked the glow puck and think Sunrise, FL deserves a team over Winnipeg.

And I don't know what the Ballston comment means and I'm too much of a neanderthal Philly fan to look it up (more on that later).

A few Capitals employees nodded their heads approvingly when Mike Green squared off with Philadelphia's Scottie Upshall at the outset of the third period, as if to say, "Finally." But lost in the moment was an ugly truth: Green had never gotten into a fight at any level of the game according to HockeyFights.com, which tracks scraps all the way back to juniors.

When the Caps' offensive-minded defenseman lost it, Philly had won: Washington was trying to play the Flyers' bump-and-grind game.


FALSE. Thanks again 700 Level. And if Boudreau allows his players to get off their game and play the Flyers' type of game, shame on him. That is exactly what any team wants to do: Get the other team out of their comfort zone.

Midway through the third period of this demoralizing 6-3 loss at Wachovia Center, 20,000 people in fluorescent orange howled for their World Extreme Cagefighters, and a crowd in the upper bowl chanted vulgarities at Ovechkin that went beyond the bounds of loutish fan behavior. As the frothing masses left the arena, they felt good about the bull being struck and killed -- checking the multi-generational Russian wizards Ovechkin and Sergei Fedorov into humility as much as the boards.


Fucking. A. Right. One thing you forgot Mr. Wise, your boy had just taken a dive that Helen Keller would have given a 10. Call us louts, we call it like we see it.

And isn't part of going to a bullfight to see the bull killed? I know I read something like that in The Sun Also Rises. That's right, we can read!

This must gnaw at George McPhee's gut, especially the way the Capitals' general manager used to give no quarter as a player, unafraid to swap blows with bigger, stronger players.

But the Capitals hurt themselves, too: They couldn't get out of their own end for minutes at a time. Washington looked timid for much of the first two periods, the best four-on-four team in the NHL a month ago -- when each team is a man down -- mishandling the puck, losing its confidence with each careless cross-rink pass.

They stood around on the power play, waiting for someone to get open. Philadelphia has some rugged penalty-killers, quick and physical players who shave off two minutes of being a man down as if they prefer it to skating five-on-five.


I don't know how to respond to this. How does playing well 4 on 4 mean a team prefers it to even strength. I'm not sure how that leap of logic ocurred. And is the fact that the Flyers have a great PK (penalty kill, Mr. Wise), relying on speed and physicality a problem that Bettman needs to adress as well?

The Flyers act like they would rather demoralize a psychologically wounded offense than score a short-handed goal.


Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the winner of the First Annual Friendly Friends Award For Godawfulness in Journalism. The Flyers don't act like anything. They play hockey. They play hockey. They play it well (at times). They are physical and they use their size, speed and strength to kill penalties. They aren't deciding between demoralizing a psychologically wounded offense and scoring shorthanded. They are PLAYING HOCKEY.

If they wanted to demoralize something psychologically wounded I'm sure that John Stevens could take them to a mental hospital and coach them into stealing the patients' juice and cookies.

...For most of the evening, there was this unmistakable air of testosterone coming from the Flyers' direction that just reeked of physicality, a way of exerting their mauling style on the Capitals that just sent their denizens into some medieval state of euphoria.

"We want to make it physical between the whistles," Flyers Coach John Stevens said. "I think it's important for no other reason then it's the best tool we have to defend, to be honest with you. I think it's very important that we move our feet and finish our checks and get people pushed off the puck."

Translation: "We will keep punking the Caps until the NHL commissioner tells us not to."


Solid fundamentals of ice hockey = "punking?" Is that why Ashton Kutcher came running out of that production van parked across Pattison Avenue?

And an unmistakable air of testosterone? What? Really?

Did we mention they show fights on the video scoreboard every period here, more than most arenas show dunks in the NBA?

Something about this R-rated environment is just not conducive to Ted Leonsis' Family Pack Night or Ovie on Ice. The contrasts are so stark and revealing.

The Caps' postseason slogan: "Rock The Red." The Flyers? "Vengeance Now," which comes across as less of a slogan and more of a sequel to Charles Bronson's "Death Wish."


Question of the day: So fucking what?

I've been to NHL games in Philly and Long Island. I've been to AHL games in Philly, Hershey, Wilkes Barre and Manchester, VT. I've been to UHL games in Elmira and Danbury. I've been to ECHL games in Trenton. I've been to OHL games in Erie, Oshawa and Peterborough. And I've been to QMJHL games in Lewiston, ME. Guess which arenas didn't show fights on the "video scoreboard?"

Give up?

Only the ones without video-playback capability.

I do agree with the "Vengeance" thing. I haven't liked it since the beginning of the season. Who are we getting revenge on for last year? Shouldn't it be on the GM and coaches?

But "Rock the Red?" Seriously? Pick a color in your uniform and rally around that as a slogan? Why not "Wahoo! We Wear White!" or "Bellow 'Bout Blue?"

The Capitals didn't come out as Eastern Conference foes; they entered the playing surface like Russell Crowe entered the Coliseum in "Gladiator." Flyer fans didn't want to beat Washington as much as see Ovechkin bludgeoned, his teammates emasculated.

It's almost impossible to fathom, but the Capitals took the ice in front of a building as loud as Verizon Center last Friday. The fans wore orange instead of the Capitals' red, and many of the women and children looked as if they could work security for Megadeth.

On I-95 entering town there is a billboard of Riley Cote, a stumpy rogue who engaged in 24 fights this season, twice as many as Capitals tough guy Donald Brashear. Cote's wild-man eyes and his quick fists are the only features shown of the Flyers' player.


No, I think the Flyers just wanted to beat their opponent, much like any of the other 29 teams in the NHL want to do every night.

Impossible to fathom a rink as loud as the Verizon Center? Season attendance in Philly: 801,797 total, game average of 19,556 for an average percent of capacity of 100.3%. Season attendance in DC: 634,381 total, game average of 15,472 for an average percent of capacity of 82.9%. And you can't fathom why the Philly faithful are louder and more passionate?? Maybe it's because we're there EVERY SINGLE GAME not just when we're on a hot streak at the right time. And by the by, last season, when the Flyers were dead last they played to a rink that was 98.9% full every night. The Caps? They played to a rink that was 74.6% full and they had "pretty goal" scorer Ovechkin all season. (Thanks ESPN.com for the numbers)

And I worked security in the Philly area for a while in high school and college, including a number of Megadeth-type shows (possibly even for a Megadeth show, they've all run together over the years) and I can honestly say, I have not a clue as to what that comment was supposed to mean. I saw plenty of women last night that looked like they stepped out of a Maxim or FHM spread (not to mention a couple that looked like they were in the first pictures of a Playboy spread). I didn't know there was a "Megadeth Security Guard" look out there. Is it like emo? Goth?

And boo-fucking-hoo about the Riley Cote billboard. If the Caps had a better marketing department ("Rock the Red" everyone!!!) they'd have come up with the same thing for Brashear.

Five minutes into the game, they showed a video of Philly's top brawls this past season, many involving Cote grabbing hold of an opponents' shirt for leverage before pummeling him to the ice, which is just a swell environment for children -- children of Patrick Roy.


And last night they showed a video of the top goals of the season. So apparently running down season highlights is a no-no in Mr. Wise's world.

They flat-out market and sell violence here, sanctioned, unbridled assaults disguised as sport.


Last night, between the 1st and 2nd period, they lined up Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and a small riser full of nuns. We all took turns throwing our city-issued D-Cell batteries at them!!! What fun indeed!!

The Flyers are an instant repudiation of what Gary Bettman wanted the league to become. They are a reminder of the NHL's pugilistic past that just won't go away. The result Tuesday night was Hartnell and Daniel Brière popping Cristobal Huet, making the Caps' goalie retaliate because no one on his team seemed interested in having his back at the moment.


So Anaheim wins the cup last year playing a newly physical game and they're geniuses. The Flyers play the way they've played since Ed Snider decided in the early 70's that his teams wouldn't be pushed around by the Blues anymore and they are an "instant repudiation" of what some failed commissioner wanted as his personal vision of the NHL? I don't follow.

Hartnell has become an annoying gnat in the crease, buzzing around Huet's ear now for two games as if he owns the area.


DING!! Right out of the box!!

Until someone on the Caps clears the porch, Hartnell will sit there drinking his Countrytime Lemonade much like Timmy Kerr did in the 80's. That's how it works, Mr. Wise, in hockey.

Unless Ovie and the Overachievers get untracked offensively soon and the sublime choreography of teamwork returns to the Capitals' line, there is but one hope left.


DING!!! AGAIN!!! Perhaps they "Overacheived" their way into the playoffs and they're getting exposed for it now? Naw, couldn't be.

Quick, someone find a number for Donaghy.


Wow. Someone bribe the refs so the Caps can score "pretty goals" and win!

Sweaty has informed me that Mr. Wise was on the radio here and admitted he knew nothing about hockey and was an NBA guy. No shit. Better actually watch a game before you write your next article.

And for making it this far? HOT HOCKEY GIRLS! And a former Cap.




Yes, Mr. Wise, Jaromir Jagr was a Cap. Sorry? What was that? You've never heard of him? Not surprising...



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