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NHL Cracking Down on Vancouver Canucks Green Men

If people want to refer to the NFL as the “No Fun League,” they should probably be fair and start calling the NHL the “No Happiness League.” For whatever reason, NHL officials have decided to crack down on traditions during the 2011 NHL Playoffs.  First, the league asked the Detroit Red Wings to see to it that their fans stop doing the octopus toss, a nearly 50-year-old tradition.  According to Puck Daddy, the NHL has now asked the Vancouver Canucks to tell the Green Men to stop screwing around near the opponents’ penalty box during games.

Of the four major U.S. sports, it’s no secret that the NHL is the least popular.  That being the case, why is it that the NHL is trying to squash harmless traditions and tone down some of its most devoted fans?  According to the league, the issue with the Green Men is liability.  If they were to get hurt doing handstands up against the glass the NHL could conceivably find themselves in hot water.

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Video: Canucks Fan Throws Fish on the Ice

There are a lot of questions that come to mind when you first see this video of a Canucks fan throwing a fish into the ice earlier this week. First and foremost, how does one go about getting a fish into a hockey arena? Did the fan bribe a cook at one of the food stations and somehow come away with a full, uncooked, uncleaned fish? Secondly, why a fish? The first thing I thought of is the scene from The Godfather with the horse’s head. Is the fan trying to show the teams what he’s capable of? Vancouver is the best team in the NHL, so he can’t be mad at the home team, right? And finally, was this person hammered, or just weird?

I’ll let you take a few moments to ponder all of these questions. Thanks to The Big Lead for the video.

Home Ice Disadvantage in Playoffs

Whenever the playoffs come around in any sport, we always here about the “home advantage.” Well, in these 2010 NHL Playoffs, we are seeing exactly the opposite. Every team in the playoffs, aside from the Sharks, has faced difficulty winning at home. For some reason the Sharks have been amazing no matter where they are.

Let’s start with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks. Game One of their Western Conference semifinals series resulted in an embarrassing home loss for the Blackhawks as the Canucks came into the United Center and just took over. The Blackhawks fell 5-1 that night, but came back for three straight dominate performances, two of which were on the road in Vancouver (where the Hawks seemed to enjoy taunting the fans).  Sunday night, the Canucks came into Chicago facing elimination, and they walked away with 4-1 road victory over the Blackhawks. Game Six will take place Tuesday night in Vancouver. So, why are these two teams so much better when they don’t have their home crowd behind them? There might not be an answer, but these teams are hardly an isolated case.

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens have shown a similar pattern of losing at home in their Eastern Conference semifinals series. The Penguins dominated in their first home game of this series, but then fell to the Canadiens in the second home game. The Canadiens fell to the Penguins when they returned to Montreal, but won their second home game too. They have forced Game Six in Montreal Monday night.

I think the home struggles of these teams has a lot to do with the goals of the road teams. It seems that all of these road teams are feeding off the energy of quieting the crowd and embarrassing the home town team in front of them. Hey, the fans love taunting the visiting teams — just check out the green men in Vancouver, who have been taunting all season.  My guess is that the players love taunting on the road as much as the fans do, only they do it by winning. That’s somewhat strange because in my opinion, there’s nothing better than a win in front of your home town fans.

Sources:
Five Things We Learned From Sunday [ESPN]

Penalties Indicate Blackhawks are Getting in Canucks’ Heads

Friday night the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks faced off again for Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals. It was apparent by the amount of times the Canucks players went skating to the penalty box that the Blackhawks were getting to them.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews came up with his first career playoff hat trick. This was a nice compliment to the hat trick that defensemen Dustin Byfuglien had on Wednesday night. Can they make it three in a row? If the Canucks keep trying to play dirty, it’s more than possible. Alexandre Burrows got a couple shots in on Big Buff when he was down, but it did nothing but hurt his team. The Canucks were trying to match the physicality of the Hawks, but instead it just kept landing them in the box instead.

So how are the Hawks doing it? Is it the back-to-back hat trick games? Is it Byfuglien’s cockiness towards Vancouver fans? Or maybe it’s Adam Burish calling Burrows a clown and telling him to come find him or Ben Eager on the ice?

Whatever it is, it’s working. Roberto Luongo has even shaved off his playoff beard as his way of  “Changing things up a bit.” The Canucks will head into Chicago Sunday night trailing by two games in the series, but they aren’t giving up yet. Canucks head coach Alain Vigneaultis trying to remain confident in Luongo:

The goaltender has been a big part of it and he’s been in this situation before. He was in this situation just a couple months ago with Team Canada where they couldn’t lose and he won three straight, so I’ve got a lot of faith him, I’ve got a lot of confidence in him and I know he’s going to do the job for us. … The series is not over.

He’s right, it isn’t over. But the Blackhawks certainly have momentum on their side as they return home having won three games in a row. I said from the start that this was going to be a very exciting series and so far I haven’t been disappointed.

Sources:
Blackhawks Shoot for the Series Win [NHL.com]
Cheap Shots on Dustin Byfuglien [YouTube]
Burish calls out Canucks ‘Clowns’ [Calgary Herald]
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Blackhawks Looking to Make Roberto Luongo Cry Again

During the 2009 NHL playoffs, the Chicago Blackhawks stunned the Vancouver Canucks by beating them in game six of the Western Conference semifinals. It was enough to make a grown man cry — literally. After the 7-5 loss to the Blackhawks, Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo began to cry because he felt he had let his team down. Well, this year they are hoping to stop the waterworks and the Blackhawks in their tracks as the two teams will have a playoff rematch which starts Saturday night.

All I can say is this series is going to be awesome. You have the number two and three seed battling it out in what has become a great rivalry. Luongo isn’t looking to get embarrassed by the boys in red and white again, but the Hawks want to make the gold medal goalie cry again.  The two teams both won two games against each other in the regular season, so if that has any impact on this series the games are going to be close.

I’m sticking with my orginal Stanley Cup winner and saying the Blackhawks will take this series. As long as they don’t try to get fancy with the puck and make it on to Sportscenter’s Top 10 Plays, they can play some good old fashion hockey and get past Vancouver.

Sources:
Blackhawks vs. Canucks preview [SI.com]
Roberto Luongo gets emotional after loosing series vs Hawks [YouTube]

Those Canucks Are Good S*** Talkers

I guess when you’re up 2-0 in a series and on the verge of taking a 3-0 lead in a best of seven, you’re going to find yourself being pretty loose. Jump ahead to the 25 second mark of the video to see how the Canucks talked ish to the Blues in the middle of a skirmish. Let’s role the tape:

Video via Deadspin. Yes, that was two Canucks players telling a Blues player, David Backes, to say hit to his wife for them. Like I said, I guess when you’re winning you have a more casual and free attitude. By the way, the Canucks were my sleeper team in the West. I know Detroit and Anaheim look good, but with Luongo in net and the Sedin’s showing up, Vancouver looks pretty strong too.