DG's Quick Hits- April 21, 2003

This week:

No blaming Cujo for loss

Lightning dump Caps, even all-time record

On the radar screen: Alexander Mogilny, Bob Goodenow, the Florida sports scene, Jaromir Jagr’s new math, “Nick & Doug” and more.
NO BLAMING CUJO FOR LOSS

One of the deciding factors for Curtis Joseph’s signing with the Detroit Red Wings was that he felt he had a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup with Detroit than his old team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Those hopes were dashed when the Anaheim Mighty Ducks surprisingly swept Cujo’s Wings out of the playoffs, meaning the last team standing in last year’s playoffs was the first team to fall this year. Expectedly the bulk of the criticism was levied on Joseph, who was expected to carry on where Domonik Hasek left off last year, but the reality is much different.

No, the blame shouldn’t fall on Joseph: it should fall on the rest of Wings, particularly those who were there last year, who failed to get their jobs done. Joseph did his job, keeping the Wings in the game by ensuring any deficit was not too large (should they happen) and overall not unraveling when things got tough, unlike his teammates. Sure, the play of the Ducks’ Jean-Sebastien Giguere played a huge part in the Wings’ ultimate demise, but the burden of the problem lay on the Wings and Wings alone. Big guns like Brett Hull, Steve Yzerman and Niklas Lidstrom failed to score a goal, and no Red Wing scored more than once in the entire series. Furthermore, despite the fact the Wings grossly outchanced the Ducks, the Wings wound up wasting them with errant plays, as the young Ducks played with such a poise and demeanour that the Wings lost theirs, making veterans look like rookies. No, I don’t blame Joseph who did his job: I blame players like Yzerman, Hull, Lidstrom, Luc Robitaille and Darren McCarty, who failed to do theirs.

LIGHTNING DUMP CAPS, EVEN ALL-TIME RECORD

Despite being outplayed by the Washington Capitals for the first two periods of Game 6, the Tampa Bay Lightning rallied to a 2-1 victory in triple overtime to take their first round series with the Capitals by a 4-2 count, evening the franchise’s all-time playoff record at 6-6. The Lightning, whose previous playoff encounter ended with a 4-2 first round series loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in 1996, overcame a 2-0 series deficit to clinch the series, being the fourth team to accomplish that against the Capitals since 1992. The Lightning were ecstatic, especially head coach John Tortorella, who expressed joy over the victory because it had “been a long time coming”, according to ESPN.com

However as much the Lightning deserved this victory- and, don’t get me wrong, they did- the loss ultimately comes back to the Capitals, who again shot themselves in the foot in what has been a recurring theme for the franchise. As said before, the Capitals again failed to secure the series up 2-0 going back home to Washington for the fourth time since 1992, and, despite outplaying the Lightning in the first and second periods, they could only manage a 1-0 lead off the stick of Peter Bondra. Despite outshooting the Lighting 12-6 in the third, the Capitals allowed the Lightning to slowly get back in and dominate, allowing for Dave Andreychuck’s tying marker with less than five minutes to go in regulation. Finally, the Capitals, in the third overtime, gave up a stupid penalty, as Jason Doig hopped on the ice too early penalizing them for having too many men on the ice. The power play allowed Tampa’s Martin St. Louis to wrap up the series with a goal, again created by Tampa’s overbearing and relentless effort. The Capitals failed to record a sellout in Game 6, and after watching them unravel- albeit slowly- to the Lightning, I wouldn’t blame those who stayed home.

ON THE RADAR SCREEN

Keeping things in perspective: when asked about (I think) if the Toronto Maple Leafs were afraid of being eliminated in Game 6 Monday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, right winger Alexander Mogilny replied: “fear…it’s such a strong word. You go to war…that’s fear. It’s just a hockey game”. Couldn’t have said it better myself…Speaking of Toronto, it was a relief to watch ABC’s telecast of Game 5 of the Leafs/Flyers series and hear John Davidson, Bill Clement and Gary Thorne criticizing the Leafs, something the CBC duo of Harry Neale and Bob Cole don’t ever seem to do. The only problem was that the ABC crew really didn’t have much negative to say about the Flyers…National Hockey League Players’ Association Executive Director Bob Goodenow says that there “won’t be a cap” and that he tells the players to expect “a long lockout”. *heavy sigh* Although, I’ll admit, this isn’t unusual, considering that both sides are greedy louts, although here’s hoping the news of the World Hockey Association’s resurgence may change the players and the owners’ minds…Jaromir Jagr’s “new math” in response to all the math that has went against his Capitals: “teams that win Games 6 and 7 win 100% of the time”. As the TSN analyst noted: “he’s right”. Too bad for him the math eventually went against the Capitals…”Blunders ‘R’ Us”: apparently, one U.S. broadcaster mistakenly identified the Capitals’ head coach as “Butch Cassidy” as opposed to “Bruce Cassidy”. Maybe they were hoping he had some “Sundance” magic with the Capitals…With the Lightning’s resurgance, it’s time to examine the Florida Panthers’ viability as a NHL franchise. Do they still matter, or should Florida only have Tampa considering the Lightning are doing so well now? Hard questions, usually made harder since neither team has proven they can have sustained success, though that may change with the young Bolts…Speaking of Cinderella stories, do the Minnesota Wild have a chance against the Colorado Avalanche? They caught the Avs napping in Game 5, though I doubt Colorado will give them that chance again. Then again, no one expected the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to win, so anything’s possible…The Vancouver Canucks have reason to believe they can succeed in the playoffs now that they’ve evened up their series with the St. Louis Blues. Team captain Markus Naslund- who I’m keeping a close eye on- told The Score his team is more “confident” now that they’ve evened up the series. They’d better be: after backing himself into a corner by admitting the Canucks “choked” to close the regular season, Naslund can’t afford to lose Game 7…Finally: an open question: for those who watch the TSN telecasts, who else is annoyed by those “Nick & Doug” segments? I know I am. I really wonder what got into TSN’s heads when they even thought those bits were even the least bit funny. They’re just stupid, tiring and plain annoying, using arguably the worst punch lines ever invented. If there’s one thing I won’t miss with TSN’s telecasts after the first round, it’s that annoying duo.

-DG


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