05/08/2011 at 10:03am EDT
From Tony Gallagher at The Province (via the Edmonton Journal):
Unless Ryan Kesler can once again pick this team up and carry it on his broad shoulders, you have to have grave doubts about whether Vancouver can survive this series let alone win a Stanley Cup.
Already dragged through seven games by a team they should have finished in four, this team finds itself on a plane back to Nashville today for an extension of yet another series they should have finished much earlier. And just like games four and five in the Chicago series, they simply gave it away, although they used a different formula Saturday night against the Predators who have clearly indicated they are not going away.
Not to be contrary—and I’m going to be polite and completely ignore that idiocy about how they “should have finished” off their nemesis Blackhawks in four—but on what planet do you have to live to believe that any playoff-worthy hockey team was just going to pack its bags and go away, just because you’d decided Vancouver should win and Nashville should lose?
Of course, this over-reaction to game 5’s result is predictable, given Vancouver’s choice to set this game up as their “Game 7” at Game 5, in nearly every hockey story in the last 48 hours. Set up to be a must-win… but then they didn’t win. So, not winning makes them look like big losers. Not surprisingly, plenty of people respond with fears of déjà vu and projections of disaster.
But as the cliché goes, that is why they play the games. If you’re going to watch and enjoy (and write about, as in Mr. Gallagher’s case) a best-of-7 series, you’d better grow a pair and keep a balanced view of things. And be prepared to survive down to the final buzzer of game 7.
There are simply no guarantees in hockey, no matter how well you play. It’s the nature of sports… highs and lows that nearly kill us.
But is this situation really that dire? I don’t think so. Vancouver played great in many ways (though with some notable exceptions) but lost fair-and-square. To assume that Vancouver would DEFINITELY win if they played a dynamite game… that’s ridiculous. That assumes that Nashville’s play/luck/talent has no role in the series, which is patently absurd.
Bottom line: Vancouver doesn’t control their own destiny… the score sheet does and there are two teams on that sheet.
Sometimes—a lot of times, even—it’s not about who the most talented team is, it’s about being the right team on the right night. Tonight, a few Predators (Pekka Rinne, Joel Ward, etc) had great nights and their team exploited the advantage presented to them. Yet Gallagher’s view was that the Canucks “simply gave [the game] away”, and on that I have to call ‘bullshit’. It was a game that featured a pile of intensity from both sides, both teams strong at various times, and nobody gave anything away. But in the end, somebody—the Predators—just happened to be in the lead when the buzzer went off.
So the Preds took the Canucks down. Sad, but it’s only game 5! Despite the media’s (and plenty of fans’) fervent belief that game 5 was a “must win,” the truth is that it absolutely was not a must-win. Sure, Vancouver could use the rest, but (to use the obvious example), how well did “rest” work out for the Wings after the first round?
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are not about rest, they’re about grueling hard work through 16 wins. However you can get them. And if it takes 7 games to get 4? So be it. Sure, it’s a scary prospect, but that’s why they play the games—because miracles and disasters happen. (Ask Boston and Philly last year; ask dozens of others throughout history).
I don’t think Vancouver will find disaster in the end result. They’re a team that doesn’t ever seem to panic, and they’ll survive this test and and prove their resolve. It just might take a bit longer than we’d prefer. And if so, we’ll survive it.
That is why they play the games… And that is why we drink tequila. (And we’ll survive that, too. God willing.)
P.S. Jason Botchford of The Province wrote this on Saturday night:
Before the game, Tony Gallagher said there’s an old journalist’s credo that the outcome of a game will invariably be whichever one adversely impacts the most reporter’s [sic] possible. It came true Saturday.
Clever, but perhaps that has something to do with the fact every last one of you used the same “Game 5 is really Game 7” and “THERE IS NO WAY THIS TEAM CAN LOSE!” talking points??!
Dumbasses. No wonder the price of tequila is going up.