Post-Game Show: 04/25/08 Game 1 Round 2

Rant Man and Johnny B talk post-game reactions from the first three games of round two, and preview the Sharks and Stars.

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Musings of a Rant Man: Sharks-Dallas Semi-Finals

Thought I'd verbally have a discussion on the Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks matchup. Here's some little known facts, and also why I think a particular team will walk away with a win in this series.

~The Rant Man~

P.S. - When talking about the interview with Turco part (referencing John on this week's show), I accidentally said 'Craig' Simpson, not 'Christine' Simpson! Whoops! Yeah, sorry, had a better TV network on the brain (like CBC, not Versus).

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SNAFU stands for: Situation: NHL's All Fouled Up

Thought I was going to say what the F in SNAFU really means? Shame on you, this is a family show. Anyways, SNAFU actually is a military term that means Situation Normal: All F***** Up, and that's exactly what the NHL front office is right now.

If you've been paying attention to our show, which is now updated on HurstTV 19 in Erie (we're working on getting it online, going from DVD to .Mov is proving harder than we thought), I mentioned that the NHL has just OK'ed a t-shirt (seen left) mocking the rule changes caused by Sean Avery's antics involving Marty Brodeur. That was correct, but now Gary Bettman has officially contradicted the rest of the office and denied the t-shirt, according to the New York Post.

Now many of you are probably expecting me to say that Bettman did a good job. Wrong! Bettman has further cheapened the NHL's image by being hypocritical in its stance on hypocracy.

"The commissioner and his chief lieutenant did not see the humor in it, though they may have been able to recognize the hypocrisy of capitalizing on the persona of Avery, a player the NHL can barely tolerate," says the Post. Though I agree with them, to have released the idea in the first place completely violates that, and sends a very mixed signal.

Furthering the military references, I harken back to the great WWII movie U-571, where a rookie captain is scolded for saying "I don't know." Leadership is essential in any operation, and showing indecision can kill the morale of a crew. Furthermore, approving something and then taking it back shows something far worse: dissention. While dissention in the Bettman camp is something I want, I am also far from confident that he'll be fired anytime soon. Therefore, the NHL's image should be the most important thing, for without respect, how can the fanbase grow, the ratings grow, and how can the NHL ever get back to ESPN and mainstream media?

Tounge-in-cheek things are fine, I make fun of myself quite a bit and I firmly believe that people should have thick skins, but suddenly putting the kibosh on this shows that not only is the NHL not able to make fun of itself, but it is embarrassed to do so. I remember the days where NHL commercials were actually funny. Adam Oates going "offsides" while hitting on a woman, Hockey Falls where a 1972 Bruins autographed jacket gets ruined, out of work goalies in other jobs, or the bubble hockey players talking about Wayne Gretzky. Now all we have is "I am victory, I am defeat, I am victory, I am defeat, I am victory" with a goal lamp that's shown every commercial break. Charting the NHL's popularity from then to now...maybe the league should go back to humor. Maybe championing the bafoonery of this wanna-be-goon IS what the league needs.

No...what the league needs is stability, from the inside out. This is just another example of changing minds. This t-shirt represents every change made and unmade: eliminating tag-up offsides, moving the nets 2 feet closer to the bluelines, FoxTraxx glow puck, and hopefully soon, moving to Versus and expanding to Sunrise, Florida and Nashville, Tennessee.

Sorry Gary, no praise for you here. How about we fix the wrecked car instead of just applying touch-up paint?

P.S. Has anyone else seen the irony in that if the NHL profited from this shirt, the players would receive some of it through Revenue Sharing, including Martin Brodeur who suffered through Avery's antics which led to this new rule.


Show 4: Pre-Playoffs (6 games out predictions)

Rant man and Johnny B. talk pre-playoff business before the standings are soldified. 6 to 7 games out, see what they had to say before things were set in stone. At this point, Washington was out of the playoffs, and Carolina was in. Vancouver is in at this point. Pittsburgh was number 1, as well.

So, already you can tell things were not as they are right now in terms of playoff matches. See how things progress in the predictions. Next show will be the predictions of the series at hand, aired last Wednesday on HurstTV19, Erie, PA.

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It's only game 1

Two posts in one day?! *Gasp!*
I know, I know, we neglected the blog for a while and we're now back and probably overdoing it. This post is time-sensitive, so I really don't feel like pushing it back.


It's only Game 1. Fans of 8 teams surely said that over these first few nights of the playoffs...and they're completely right for saying so. Many, many times the winner of game 1 does not go on to win the series. In the immortal words of Ryan Smyth on Knob Hockey, "so we lost game 1, that's what we did, that's what we do, we lose game 1 we fight back, we make it harder on ourselves." So often, that's exactly right. In the 2006-07 playoffs, Nashville beat San Jose in game 1 of round 1. We all know how that ended. In that same timeframe, Dallas beat Vancouver in game 1 before losing to the 'Nucks in 7. To start off their Stanley Cup run, the Carolina Hurricanes lost 6-1 to Montreal, and consequently causing stories with headlines like "Habs roll over Canes" and "Montreal skates to easy victory."

I decided to do some digging, and as of Fall 2007, 161 teams lost game 1 and went on to win the series. Granted, 355 won game 1 and then won the series...but still having roughly a third of the teams escape the odds isn't too shabby.

In fact, there have been teams that have come back from 3-0 deficits. In 1942, the Toronto Maple Leafs came back against the Detroit Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup. The "Comeback Kids" final victory was sealed with the overtime goal of Leafs legend Bill Barilko, who died that off season in a mysterious plane crash in the Canadian wilderness.

The other team to do it was the 1975 Islanders, who beat the Penguins in game 7 after the Pens won the first 3. That Isles team, still fresh from expansion, the players expected to do nothing in the playoffs, beat a Pittsburgh team that was on a roll, lead by Pronovost, Kehoe, Larouche, Iness and others. At the time, it was an upset for the ages...even though now, with both teams having glory years since then, it has faded into history.

"But John," you say, and I know you are, "a third of teams lose game 1 and win, and only two have lost 3 and won...who cares? Those are terrible odds." Those might seem terrible, but you really have to look to the bigger picture. If you take Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), along with the counts in the NHL, a team has gone down 3 games to 0 and come back to win the series 4-3 Only 3 Times in history. Two of them we've discussed, the '42 Leafs and the '75 Isles, and now the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Meaning that it's NEVER happened in basketball, and in the illustrious timeline of MLB dating back to the 1880s, it never happened until 2004. Pretty astounding, pretty exciting, and something remarkable to our unique game.

So as I stare on, drooling at the idea of my oddball Stars prediction coming true, fearing that the Sharks (and my fantasy pick Nabokov) are going to fall apart, hoping that the Pens will roll through the Senators, or wondering if I'm losing it picking the Devils and the has to remember: It's only Game 1.

my picks:
Habs in 5
Pens in 5 or less
Flyers in 7
Devils in 7

Wings in 6
Wild in 7
Sharks in 6
Stars in 5

Habs win cup over Sharks in 7, Kovalev wins Smythe

Playoff Time: Your Rant Man is Ready to ROLL!!

I'm excited, disappointed, and shocked. Looking at the way the first game (and some two) finished up, I've had my ups and downs of emotions. Stats from the regular season are suddenly meaningless. This is truly why the playoffs are the "Second Season". Proof is in the pudding folks.

San Jose and Calgary: For starters, I want to talk about this match-up because it seems so night and day when you compare the two games that we all just witnessed. Can you say with a serious face that San Jose is going to have an easy time in the playoffs with all the pressure of them being predicted to go to the finals? I hope your answers are a huge and emphatic 'No'. Any team that has the pressure built upon them from the spectators and critics to go on and compete in the Stanley Cup finals (which are about a month and a half away in scheduled reality) will feel the grip of impending doom if they get wrapped up in it. Just look at what happened in game one of the series. Calgary jumps up and squeezes out the "boo birds" at HP Pavilion. Granted the excitement came just beforehand when a flurry of activity occurred in front of Kiprusoff as San Jose tried a last ditch effort to tie. Ryan Clowe was the only play aside from the Kipper who showed up that night. The following night, it was a different story. Nabokov in the opposite goal gave the crowd something to shout and cheer about. The glove save that shocked everyone. Tim Peel, referee aka the water wings, on top of the net full body, looking down on the scrambling Mikka Kiprusoff blocking a ton of shots and bodies in his crease. Torey Mitchell's spectacular goal and well-warranted celebration with the Sharks' second and final goal of the 2-0 victory, was simply phenomenal. This series is going to be the biggest scare for the Shark team expected to make a long and deserving cup run. Lord Stanley is waiting. Will Joe Thornton raise the chalice over his head? One is hoping, but can that cause more trouble for the Sharks who lost game one and resoundingly became a much better team in game two? I don't think so. The Sharks are a team that fights through adversity with no qualms about it. Ron Wilson has a track record of success, but getting past the second round has been the issue. This may be the year they do it, and it will be in a spectacle of awe in its fashion.

New Jersey and New York Rangers: Well, I'm not surprised. Just look at the season series. The Rangers have had the Devils' number. It showed in game one between the two clubs. I'm not going to sit here and take back what I said about the series going to seven games and the Devils pulling it off. Scott Gomez was on fire setting up three goals for the Rangers in their 4-1 win in game one. I'm looking to see if he'll stay consistent. Shanahan, Callahan, and Avery with some solid goals for the blue shirts, but I look to Martin Brodeur to react like Nabokov did for the Sharks. Tonight's game will reflect the reactionary approach these goaltenders put on, especially with the home ice advantage factor. No team can go down 0-2 with home ice advantage and expect to pull off the upset in the other team's barn. Parise and Elias need to step it up and get the job done. Lundqvist looked really good, but if you rattle him enough and riddle him with shots, then the Devils will toggle on success in that respect.

So, there's my summary on two of four teams that lost game one at home. Reacting to that type of adversity is paramount in today's NHL. But it could also be the reason why I see most of these series, regardless of one-sided strengths, going to seven games. Those are just some of my thoughts on how the playoffs are going thus far.

~The Rant Man~

The Rant Man's Predictions:
Montreal in 5 (or 6 if Koivu doesn't return and Bergeron does)
Pittsburgh in 7 (or 5 if Alfredsson and Kelly don't actually return)
Washington in 7
New Jersey in 7
Detroit in 6
San Jose in 5 (this is my pre-playoff prediction, but leaning toward 7 after game 1)
Colorado in 7 (overtime in game 1 says it all)
Anaheim in 6 (maybe J.S. Giguere will react like Nabokov did after San Jose's game 1)