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Random Thoughts

Just some stuff I had to get off my chest after Game 5.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Stajan's hit on Corey Perry: First I'll start by saying until I saw a replay (on twitter thanks to Stephanie Vail who is changing life as we know it) I was just as incensed and distressed by the apparent injury to Perry as anyone else.  However, upon further reflection, I don't really see much wrong with the hit.  Really the only thing that could have (and should have) been called against Stajan was interference, as Perry never had the puck.

I do agree with Kid Ish that Stajan was intending to hit Perry and that he's been sneaky dirty all series.  There was clearly intent on Stajan's part, but I don't think his intent was to take him out of the game.  I see it as Stajan trying to put a pick on Perry and saying to himself "I might as well get my money's worth."  It was a split second switch in direction that went from throwing a pick to throwing a bad hip check to almost ending Perry's season.  There's really no way for Stajan to know he's about to fold Perry's leg the wrong way.  In summary, sneaky dirty/unlucky more than malicious intent to injure.

Perry Faking Injury: Not really worth giving it the time of day, although the thought crossed my mind before I saw the replay.

Paul Kariya Comparison: I'm not a fan of the Paul Kariya: Off the Floor, On the Board comparisons.  Kariya was damn near dead on the ice, literally unconscious and not breathing.  While it was (and still is) scary for the Ducks' playoff chances when Perry went down, it doesn't really measure up at all.  Also, Kariya's goal was much prettier:

(P.S. Gary Thorne, JD and Bill Clement... those were the days)

Then again, Perry's OT goal was more meaningful.  Something tells me that this won't define his career, much less his life after hockey.

Patrick Maroon Comparison: More importantly, I think it's still up in the air how injured Perry is.  Every hit is different, and every knee is different, but the way his knee bent reminded me a lot of the awkward Josh Gorges hit on Patrick Maroon from early in the season.  That had Maroon out for 16 days, which was less than originally scheduled (almost half actually, if memory serves).  Luckily the Ducks will have at least three to four days off to get Perry all rested up, but he's not going to be 100% when they face Chicago in Game 1 at the end of the week, which is REALLLLLLLLY bad news.

I disagree with this tweet:

Now they have a chance to become elite.  Beating two of the worst four teams in the playoffs is not elite, that's expected.  If they could have beaten the Kings last year, to get into the WCF, that would have made them elite.  In fairness they hung in there for six games, maybe they can do the same against Chicago, maybe they can even pull it off, but now is when shit gets real.

For me, watching these first two rounds was nothing but an inevitability.  It must be what it's like to be a Manchester United fan (bleh!) the only options were winning or being devastatingly disappointed, that's no way to be a sport's fan, but I digress.  It got to the point where it almost didn't even have the playoff stress/intensity.  Sure, the Winnipeg series was close all the way through, and had it's sphincter clenching moments, but once the Ducks went up 3-0 it was over.  Then there was more than a week off and the Ducks came out and ripped through Calgary like so much butter in Games 1 and 2 (even if Game 2 was far from perfect, there was no danger there) and it were just as dominant in the first period of Game 3.

It was far too easy.  There was a little scare and that playoff tenseness came back after the OT loss in Game 3.  Last night was one had all the feeling of one of those Flamey games where one team dominates and the other steals it with a quick goal here or there.  But still there was no doubt in my mind that the Ducks would win the series, and they did, relatively soundly.  In fact they were for all intents and purposes 19 seconds away from a second straight sweep.

Everything changes now: Because the Blackhawks are the best team of this generation: Four conference finals and two Stanley Cups in six years.  The fact that anyone picked Minnesota over them was complete hype and ridiculousness.  Minnesota was a team that was GREATLY improved by the addition of Devan Dubnyk.  Granted, it was Devan Dubnyk with a save percentage of about 9 billion, for two months, but still it was Devan Dubnyk.  Back to the Hawks, Patrick Kane's playoff numbers 104 GP, 103 points (44-60-104) over seven years, but before I get too dour, Ryan Getzlaf has 27-59-86 in 89 games.

Our House. Our Team: Reminds me of that scene in Game of Thrones where Joffrey is in the small council and exclaims "I Am The King!" but his grandfather comes back at him saying, "Any man who has to say 'I am the King' is no King." (those quotes are from memory, but get the point across) I don't like it any more than you do, but the reason that slogan exists is because of what happens when LA or Detroit or Chicago come to town.  We scoffed at the Winnipeg fans claiming to "takeover" Honda Center.  Calgary didn't do much better, but bet your house on the roar when the Hawks score in Anaheim.

Energy: This is going to sound really stupid to a lot of people, but even though I buy into possession stats and try to be some what rational in evaluating games (a large part of the reason why I'm terrified of Chicago), there's still a part of me that believes in whatever mystical bullshit creates "momentum."

When I say "momentum" what I mean is playing better hockey.  It's funny to me to think how taboo that word has become in hockey analysis (especially on the interwebs) because to me it means the same thing as possession.  Of course, it's much more vague and has no measurable/tangible meaning, but when you get down to it, it's just playing better, which usually means controlling the puck, taking more shots and eventually scoring goals.  To me shot attempt based statistics are a way to try and measure "momentum."  If you look at the running event charts from any of those fancy stat sites, you'll see who is carrying the play and thus has the M-word.

I guess part of the issue lies in where the momentum shifts.  Most of the time, I'm sure it's based on some kind of tactical change, whether a favorable matchup or a difference in zone entry or whatever, but I seriously believe there is also a psychological component that can be affected by pure, visceral emotion. One completely un-scientific example was last night when Corey Perry came out of the dressing room.  The crowd got up, the team got up and Calgary barely survived the last two minutes of the second period onslaught that the Ducks produced.  It's not causal, or even corollary, but it's not coincidence either.  Anyway, I've rambled on about this for too long already.  The point is, it's going to be different with a lot of opposing fans in the building to cheer on their team who is really, really good.

Finally, a Factoid: A California team has been in the Western Conference Final 10 of the last 12 seasons, Ducks in 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2015; Kings in 2012, 2013 and 2014; and Sharks in 2004, 2010 and 2011.  The only exceptions since 2003 were Detriot/Dallas in 2008, and Detroit/Chicago in 2009.  Only four of those 10 won their WCF series, but three of those four won the Cup.