Its going to be nice to be able to watch the game tonight without feeling a sense of doom. Canuck fans can relax – a little bit – knowing that the roof can’t fall in on the dream tonight. A loss won’t mean much more than a poor start. The team doesn’t want to let down, but it seems unlikely they can find the same emotional intensity as they found for a game seven.
I’ve always liked the Nashville team, partly because I like country music. Mostly it is because I’ve always had a tremendous respect for David Poile. He did a great job in Washington and he’s done a great job in Tennessee. He’s managed to ice a competitive team year after year and actually make money in what is a marginal market.
Unfortunately, that forces his coach to play like the Jacques Lemaire Minnesota Wild. I’ve said it before, but I think the Preds play the fastest trap in the league. With excellent goaltending, that makes them difficult to beat. And also pretty boring to watch because unless the Canucks match the Predator defensive intensity, an upset looms.
Still, I’d rather draw Nashville than either Detroit or San Jose. Being the top seed didn’t help in the first round, but its a blessing in the second. A few other thoughts while we wait for the start of round two:
1) The elimination of the Habs (sorry Dad) has left the Canucks as the last Canadian fan standing. This of course prompts Elliott Pap to wonder whether Vancouver will become Canada’s team:
The Montreal Canadiens are gone — and the Leafs, Sens, Oilers and Flames never made it — so look who is Canada’s team by default. Will the rest of the country now embrace the Canucks? Who knows? I guess the TV ratings will tell all, and they were pretty good for Tuesday’s Game 7 showdown between the Nucks and Hawks. I plan to check with relatives in Montreal and Toronto to see where their hearts lie. My guess is we’ll be hearing a ‘Go, Canucks, Go!’ right across the land, except maybe from Calgary…
Well, yes and no. The CBC certainly hopes so and the Canucks will surely be the lead story on the sports shows across the country. Fairly casual fans of most Canadian teams will probably climb on the bandwagon. On the other hand, the hard core fans of the Oilers? The Flames? The Leafs? They may watch – pleasing the CBC – but they won’t be hoping for the good guys. That’s okay by me – do we want Oiler fans on our bandwagon? Maybe we can tie a rope around them and drag them through our dust.
2) Daniel Sedin, Corey Perry and Martin St. Louis are the Hart Finalists. My first thought? Would you trade the three Selke Finalists – Kesler, Datsyuk and Toews – for the three most valuable players in the league? I wouldn’t either. What does that say?
Anyway, the Canucks should – and will – win both awards.
3) Watching Carrie Underwood cheer on the Predators and Mike Fisher makes me wonder whether the Fisher trade has made the Predators more marketable in Nashville. It can’t hurt. Has the team exploited the relationship?
4) It was kind of sad watching Sidney Crosby watch his team exit from the playoffs. His injury has cast a large shadow over this season and will clearly have an impact on next year as the league tries to do something about head injuries. At least the “Will Sidney play?” stories die with the Penguin hopes.
5) The Flyers are the only team left that I really hate. I can’t decide whether to hope they win or lose. Win, I guess. At least as long as the Canucks keep winning. That’s the team I’d most like to beat in a Final.
6) My second favourite team left is the Red Wings, mostly out of pure admiration. Go Sharks, go.
7) Old friends know that I’ve been a big Ryan Kesler fan for several years. He’s my favourite hockey player, but my least favourite Canuck interview. We get cliche, cliche, cliche out of him. On the other hand, Kevin Bieksa – also a favourite on the ice – is great in front of a microphone. I don’t feel like I know Kesler as a person, but Bieksa? I’d love to sit down and have a beer with him.
Update: I know that Shane O’Brien has to be part of the pre-game hype, but this CP story is flat out wrong:
O’Brien was traded to Nashville at the start of the season after he ran afoul of Vancouver management in 2009-10, when he was effectively suspended for arriving late for a morning skate.
I like Shane too much to let this pass. O’Brien was traded to Nashville, and he did run afoul of management but the two facts were not related. O’Brien was traded because he made too much money – $1.6 MM – for a player who projected to be a number seven defenseman. (The wag in me wants to point out that he was replaced by Keith Ballard who is barely in the top six at $4.2 MM. True that, but that’s not the way Gillis planned it.)