Canucks and Beyond

"Dirty" isn't a Dirty Word

04/16/2009 at 1:45pm EDT

“Any team with human excrement like Burrows deserves a beating of the greatest magnitude. Go St. Louis!! I may not be a fan but any team is better than the Vancouver No Cups and their trashy lineup of scabs, overpaid Europeans, and greasy haired oft injured goalies.”

Source: Emotionally distressed commenter at HockeyFights.com

How can anyone not love the internet hockey world? Where else can you find such unbridled hatred and borderline psychosis on display? Quite entertaining. And while the remarks are largely nonsensical (“scabs”??), it’s easy to see what motivated the rant.

While watching the Canucks—Blues game last night, one of the least-charitable exclamations that I shared with the room in the third period was: “Wow. This is amazing. It’s the playoffs and we’re the ones with the dirty team!”

And that wasn’t a criticism; it was sort of a compliment.

It wasn’t that the Canucks were relentlessly dirty or anything (i.e. Chris Pronger’s play alone, in any one period of the Van/St.L series of 2003, was dirtier than all of Vancouver’s performance in this entire game) but they’ve definitely learned their lessons about playoff hockey from past experience: Take no prisoners. Every opportunity you can take to be a dick, take it.

Alas, I’m probably going to hell, but that’s the truth, no?

Everyone with an ounce of sense—including the Blues—should’ve reasonably expected that Vancouver would have more physical play. It was something they’ve been improving for months, and if anything, they were less physical than we might have expected in the first period. But as the game progressed, they certainly took liberties.

Back to the comment at the top… I’m not sure why the writer was so obsessed with Alex Burrows’ performance, but I can respect the frustration. Burrows is golden on this team, and so by default probably a freakin’ nightmare for everyone else. So I’ll take that “human excrement” line as a compliment. But there are other players that I think are going to become even bigger lightning rods in future—like Kevin Bieksa, for one (the guy is popping off all over the place; there’s probably going to be entire message boards dedicated to Bieksa Hate by the time this series is over) and Ryan Kesler for another.

And geez, even the Sedins weren’t shy about the chippy stuff. (Seriously, St. Louis: if you’re letting yourself get handled by a twin and letting them skate unmolested into the slot, this series is not going to go well for you.)

Still, the Blues played well and will probably be more physical in the future as well. Hopefully Vancouver’s response will be more self-discipline.

The game wasn’t an exhibition of hockey grace, by anyone’s standards. But as Brad Zeimer at the Vancouver Sun notes, “Style points don’t matter in the playoffs. Wins do.” And thank the lord for that, ‘cause the style wasn’t pretty.

I like the St. Louis Blues, incidentally. Their talent and determination were laid bare to witness in that game, and their own style points come out far ahead of Vancouver’s. But the final score of the game tells all you need to know about the importance of style.

I’ll take the chippy, mucking, “dirty” team with the “human excrement” on display, any day of the week. :)

Other Reading:

  • St. Louis Game Time has a great read on game #1, and points out that the Blues can certainly make adjustments that could take this series.
  • Nucks Misconduct sums up the situation from the Canucks side.
  • Puck Daddy points to a Blues fan that may get himself in a pack of trouble for his love of Oshie.
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at the Blues/Canucks history.
  • Buzz Bishop reminds us why Canucks’ fans have such an affection for Mark Donnelly.
  • Victoria Times Colonist notes the economic stimulus effect of the Canucks playoff run. (Though I often wonder at if there’s not also some silent economic train-wreck occuring when 20,000 people a night are dropping an average of about $200+ each of their disposable income on playoff tickets…)

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