Saturday, April 3, 2010

No...I Said WIN on Home Ice This Time

The games: Portland Winterhawks vs. Vancouver Giants (WHL).Pittsburgh vs. Atlanta.

Why I chose them: WHL - I don't remember. Oh right, I think it had something to do with declaring that we were going to win on home ice this time. Why didn't I just whisper "shutout" and get it over with? Plus, I wanted to see Colby Armstrong face off against his former teammates, but he's on a two-game suspension for elbowing some dude.

The final scores: Vancouver 9, Portland 6. No, that's not a typo. Pittsburgh 4, Atlanta 3 (in OT). Excuse me, how did a rat-squat team like Atlanta force an overtime on the defending Stanley Cup champions?

So, major bummer alert all around: The Hawks go down. On a Saturday. On home ice. With a nearly sold-out crowd. Armstrong's out. My fave cutie pie Swiss goalie for Anaheim is down with an injury and Tampa just ate it against the Rangers yesterday. Plus, Luongo let in, goals the other night against LA? Just shoot me.

On the other hand, there's nowhere to go but up: The Penguins are in the the final days of their games at Mellon Arena and looking to end it with a bang, and Gonchar and Malkin are back in the lineup. As for the Hawks, how could they do any worse?

Plus, the final minutes of the Hawks game was a humdinger: Brett Ponich ended up in an instigating, misconduct, unsportsmanlike, fighting pile that also involved Brad Ross and Taylor Aronson, all of whom got kicked out of the game. I think Brett might have actually eaten someone alive for real. It was hard to tell....but he did look pretty hungry. But you gotta love Luke Walker - he just played on and didn't take any crap. Right to the end. Look out Rangers fans, he may be coming your way in the next year or so. Stay tuned...he's worth waiting for.

Now I love line brawling, foul language, dirty looks, dirtier words, mitts flying, helmets off, sticks on the ice, who started what and why fighting: But I think the Hawks might have eviscerated our starting lineup due to the fact that most of the penalties happened in the waning minutes of the game.

So now would be a good time to refresh on a few of the physical foul rules (all of which happened in the last five minutes of the Winterhawks game, at or after the buzzer): NHL Rulebook, Section 6, Physical Fouls.

-- Rule 47.1, Fighting. A fight shall be deemed to have occurred when at least one player punches or attempts to punch an opponent repeatedly or when two players wrestle in such a manner as to make it difficult for the linesman to intervene and separate the combatants.

-- Rule 47.4, Clearing the Area of Fight. When a fight occurs, all players not engaged shall go immediately to the area of their players' bench and in the event the altercation takes place at a players' bench, the players on the ice from that team shall go to their defending zone. I'm not exactly sure what happened at the end of the Winterhawks' game, but it definitely wasn't this.

-- But I'm pretty sure this did: Rule 47.16, Third Man In. A game misconduct penalty, at the discretion of the Referee, shall be imposed on any player who is the first to intervene (third man in) in an altercation already in progress except when a match penalty is being imposed in the original altercation.

Morals of the story:

The game/life: Home ice does not automatically equal advantage. The Penguins had quite a mighty winning streak on the road this year, coming within just a game or two of being perfect on the road. Ditto for the Winterhawks. I sympathize. I love travel and I never really feel at home unless I'm on a plane, in a strange city or speaking a language that isn't my own. Some people aren't meant to stay in one place. Some of us, it seems, are better in the world that is not our own. If that's the road to Vancouver, BC, then so be it. I trust that 9 goals in one night on home ice in game 1 of round 2 of the WHL playoffs will serve as a turning in which we turn the other way and lay waste to Vancouver. And, as for Pittsburgh... thank god Malkin -- my favorite cutie pie forward who's way smarter than he seems -- is back. That was the longest week and a half of my life.

Up next: Hold that thought. I can't drink any adult beverages while I'm on all these stupid pain and steroid medications, and what's left of the Winterhawks may eat it on home ice again tomorrow. I might possibly die in my sleep on Sunday night from a lack of beer and winning playoff hockey on home ice. I shall report back on Monday if I'm still here. Wait a minute...what am I thinking? I have a month's supply of Vicodin at my disposal...and there's no rule banning fans from taking a painkiller during games, when required under desperate circumstances. Stay tuned...

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