28 April 2008

Playoffs in full swing; blogger falls off face of planet

I will freely admit that I have not been able to pay the strictest attention to the playoffs this year, save my beloved Senators' early exit. Unfortunately other things like "final exams" and "a social life" and "moving" have taken up huge chunks of my time, and undoubtedly "looking for a job" is next on the list. As much as I would love to be paid for my spittle-flecked bloviating about hockey at anyone who will stand still long enough, the actual job listings for "misanthrope who adores awful European hockey players and harbors an irrational hate for quite a number of teams and players and enjoys ranting at length" are quite thin indeed.

I'm kind of contractually obligated to be cheering for the Wings from now on, thanks to "that's the way I was brought up" rhetoric from my parents. Apparently Colorado has made the command decision to go old-school this playoffs and bring back some players everyone had forgotten about--Adam Foote being one and the eternally-broken Forsberg the other. I won't lie, I've been laughing at their mishaps--Forsberg can't play! Jose Theodore is sucking so badly that he's been pulled in two straight games and they still can't seem to start Budaj! Meanwhile, everyone at the headquarters for the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation is praying for Theodore to permanently fall ill, or for Carey Price to break his legs, or something, so they can finally have the prestige of being able to say a Slovak goaltender is a National Hockey League playoff-starter caliber player. Looks like we'll still be waiting on that.

What I am really excite for now, and by really excited I mean really frothing-at-the-mouth, lying-awake-at-night excited, is the World Hockey Championships, that start in about three days. IIHF.com has graciously had a countdown clock down to the second up on their website for about eight straight weeks now, and we're down to three days, eighteen hours or so. Not that I have been obsessively checking it or anything.

This year all the teams will be playing at one point with vintage jerseys. I hope I won't lose my honorary Canadian citizenship by saying that the Canadian jerseys look like the tragic aftermath of an autumn leaf-blower accident, but they do. More hilarity can be found with the French jersey, which has a rooster on it for real. I love how they have to say right on the website that the rooster is a "proud and noble" animal in France. Perhaps this will forestall some of the ridiculing that will be coming the French players' way, but I doubt it. Oh, come on! They put the chicken RIGHT ON THE FRONT OF THE JERSEY. I can't make this stuff up!

The rosters are also up, which is awesome. I know what team I'm going to be cheering for this year--Russia, man. Ovechkin and Fedorov and Kovalchuk and the Morozov-Zaripov-Zinovyev line from Ak Bars that has been absolutely tearing up the Super League? And one of my favorite players ever, Petr Schastlivy (and yes, I know they spell it with two Y's on the website, but in general North-American-published literature it's with the one Y, my personal theory on this is that it's to differentiate it from "schastlivyy" which is the transliteration for the Russian for "happy"), perhaps back for another stint as captain? I can hardly stand the excitement!

Unfortunately, my favorite team from last year and most of the years before that, Slovakia, is not looking so hot this year. With Marian Hossa still competing in the playoffs, and Marian Gaborik out with an injury, Satan turning down his invite, Meszaros having walked off a cliff after the Sens' demise, that leaves the outstanding lights of Marcel Hossa, Andrej Sekera, and Lubomir Visnovsky as the big names on the team. Clearly, I am using "big names" with the largest possible interpretation. Supler, obviously, is returning as coach, and their three goalies this year will be Lasak, Krizan, and some U20 kid, Hudacek. Lasak didn't play last year, and I don't know why, and Budaj has refused several invitations to play for his national team in the past, which meant last year Krizan got the top spot. In a couple years I'd be looking for Halak to challenge that, but this year he's otherwise occupied waiting for Carey Price to fall down some stairs or slip on a banana peel.

Sweden has a guy playing with the last name of "Warg." How much would that rule? "And now, down the pike comes WARG!!!!!" "Warg" is something I use as a general term of exertion--"warg, I'm so tired." Heh. I'd want to watch the games just to listen to them say his name. But then again, Italy has a player with the last name of "Hell." Frankly, I don't know which is better.

In other exciting goalie news, the USA will be starting Craig Anderson, my perennial favorite backup goaltender. Oh, Craig Anderson, why are you so awesome? I've been keeping an eye on him ever since he backed up in Chicago, the hometown-boy-makes-good story of the year, and this is an awesome opportunity for him. I don't know if he has the raw talent to get a starter's spot, but this will probably make his stock rise a bit anyhow.

Finally, as for Switzerland, who generally nobody cares about, they have two guys with the last name of "Gerber" on the team. One is Martin Gerber, my beloved Sens' goaltender with the fantastic bald spot, and the other goes by the name "Beat Gerber." IT'S FUNNY, PEOPLE. Martin Gerber and Beat Gerber? I hope no one in the Ottawa media gets hold of that, or it will be a field day for them. (Switzerland will also be featuring the talents of Julien Vauclair, who played for the Sens a few years ago when they had that league record of five guys with names starting with "V" playing for them. Not that anyone cares/cared about him except for me, but it's nice to see he's still doing well in Switzerland. (Which, apparently, is where Sens players go to die, seeing as how last I checked, Alexandre Daigle was playing there as well. (I need to stop with the parenthesis now, I think.)))

May 2nd can not come fast enough.

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