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Too late to fight

WHAT IN THE #$&@#!&% PIG DOG HELL, SHANNY?  Sunday’s Penguins @ Flyers game was the icing on a complete melt down of a first round.  It doesn’t matter if the ridiculous leniency on Shea Weber made NHL players think they can get away with anything, or if it only let them know there’s a tiny window here– short as a weekend– to shorten the opponent’s bench.  It doesn’t matter why they have all lost their minds or their common sense.  Things are out of control and someone has to tie these playoffs down right now.

That said, I love these Flyers.  They worked around all that crap and won anyway.  Take the lead, take their heads, they still get up and keep fighting.  By fighting I mean winning the game.  Also pretty charming was Hartnell waiting patiently to see which Penguin actually wanted to fight him instead of just tugging on his shirt or jumping him from behind.

I did not think I would like this group so much, but this never say die we’re gonna do this our way no matter what you say makes me crazy and I am completely taken with them. 

They are trimming their starting handicap from “down by 3” in Game 1, to 2, to just 1 today.  Maybe next time they can go ahead and take the lead to start.  Or maybe not, maybe they’ll give up four goals in the first and wait until the third to do anything about it.  I have given up trying to figure them out.  They’ve dragged me out of my electric chair enough times for me to put up with anything.  Well, almost anything.

I am surprised by how my bias blinds me.  I am sure some Flyer or another could take some blame (beyond not turning the other cheek) for Sunday’s events.  I am harder on the Sharks, but maybe that’s because 1) they lost and 2) I’m not used to them freaking out.  Crazy is a normal state for the Flyers, not for the Sharks.

The Sharks are supposed to do things the right way.  They’re not supposed to fall on the goalie, play concussed or live on a fast food diet of shorthanded goals.  I don’t want them too, I don’t want the Flyers doing that either but…  The Sharks are supposed to show up no matter what time of day the game starts, while the Flyers, well, come on, we all know noon is just way too early for them to tie their laces, poor dears…

At least one Flyers writer was baffled by how hard-working the Sharks are.  Jagr was did his extra work in the wee hours but how many Flyers really joined him?  Clearly the Sharks have a more workmanlike way of doing things and I admire them for it.  In the long run it should pay off.

You know how older siblings get that bs line “I expect more of you because I know you’re can do better…”?  That one?  Yes, the Sharks have become the elder sibling here, with all those trades Holmgren made last Summer, bringing in all those bright-eyed kids.  Also, who the heck expected these Flyers to make it past the first round?  To even sniff the second?  They are overachieving at a ridiculous level.  And now they’re all banged up, at the hands of those rotten underhanded Penguins.

Mister Kawakami claims that Saturday’s devolution into brutishness is a sign that the Sharks will win, that they have uncovered some heretofore untapped reservoir of giveadamn.  He is wrong.   That was a freakout, plain and simple.  The Sharks will only win when they decide to win the game by beating their opponent, not beating on their opponent.  In case Tim missed it, the Sharks LOST that game 3-0.

Mark Emmons asked the teams to share their morning after take on the melee that was Game 2:

“Our goal is to win, first and foremost,” defenseman Dan Boyle said. “I think that’s the best payback we can have, sending these guys home. And I’m sure that they’re thinking the same thing.”

In fact, that’s exactly what the Blues say.

“All this stuff about message-sending, it never works anyway,” St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. “This time of year there’s only one payback. Win the hockey game. There’s no retribution other than that.” -Mercury News

Which brings me back to this awful mess the NHL’s Department of Certain Player Safety Sometimes has gotten us into.  I don’t care if some fans think this is fun.  It is a boondoggle, a train wreck, a sham.  It is everything the sport knows it needs to get rid of to count itself among respectable professional team sports suitable for broadcasting in prime time.  Taking out someone’s knees, elbowing him in the head, sucker-punching, the whole game grinding to a halt for multiple fist fights… don’t dignify that by calling it “old school.”  It’s dark age imbecility.  The Romans used slaves for that kind of shit.  Permitting this behavior is how you reduce the quality of the game, not just by stopping it for stupid fits but by injuring your highly trained and paid players.  That’s also how you make the casual Sunday afternoon viewer change the channel and never tune back in.

Ed Willes summarized the weekend nicely here, though I would dispute some of his characterizations.  Obviously I don’t agree with putting Galiardi’s hit on the list of NHL weekend crimes.  McDonald saw him coming and really should have addressed the issue.  Galiardi didn’t need to hit him that hard, but it was far from a dirty hit.

Ed Willes summarized the weekend nicely here, though I would dispute some of his characterizations. Obviously I don’t agree with putting Galiardi’s hit on the list of NHL weekend crimes. McDonald saw him coming and really should have done something about it. Galiardi didn’t need to hit him that hard, but it was far from a dirty hit.

Maybe Willes just wanted to get every team in there. He left some out. Maybe they didn’t get the memo in New Jersey yet, or Vancouver. They may have missed their chance. Shanahan did hand out some suspensions Sunday, he might have more today.

No matter. The Sharks and the Blues sound like they are ready to take the high road and direct their energies where they belong: into the game, away from the extracurriculars. No matter what Shanahan does, I always expect a little more from the Western Conference teams. Sure, it’s just another bias, but that’s what I’ve seen: far fewer shenanigans out here than back east.

I hope the Sharks are not secretly waiting for anyone to give them permission to get back to their game. One little mess of a game and I’m full of doubt about the Sharks’ ability to refocus, come back and do what it takes to win. It is much much much too late to let Shanahan call this fight. Unlike Flyers East and West, the Sharks are not up 3-0. They’re starting a five game series.

They say they’re ready to win now. Show me, Sharks.


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