As I watched game one tonight, I was wondering how I was going to make my case for my Stanley Cup favorite. The Canes were down and were being dominated by the Oilers. And I was trying to figure out how to justify my Canes call, even though they were down 3-0 and could easily have been down 5-0.
Then Rod Brind'Amour scored a tap-in. And really, the game could have gone either way, even with that. Was it meaningless, or was it a turn?
A turn, obviously. And that's why I like the Canes in this series. They aren't intimidated by a 3-0 deficit. They don't shrink from the physical play. They have a young goalie who is too focused on not choking to let in back-breaker goals. How sick was young Cam Ward tonight? the common thought is that young goalies can't be trusted in big games, because vets can let bad goals go and re-focus. I don't know if I've ever seen a goalie more focused than Ward was in the third period.
So, obviously, I'm a canes fan for the next two weeks.
But I'm not far from being an Oilers fan, either. Those guys play the game really hard and they are clearly learned in the sacrifice required of Cup winners. Thier coaching staff has obviously instilled in them a desire and an understanding. Although, I think that Bergeron may have taken that a step too far when he crushed Andrew Ladd into his own goalie with five minutes left. If he doesn't go out of his way to make a stupid hit, Roloson isn't hit and probably finishes the game.
Speaking of which, what a shitty way to lose ANY game, let alone a playoff game, let alone a Stanley Cup Final game. The replacement goalie, who hasn't played in literally months, has to come in with 5 minutes left in a tie game. Handling the puck behind the net, he panics and bumps the puck off his defenseman's stick...onto the blade of Rod Brind'Amour. It looked like a street hockey goal from when you were 11 years old. And it was the game winner.
But more important to the Oilers, they lost a back-breaker game that they were up 3-0 in, lost their starting goalie and lost on a goofy, bad karma kinda goal. Not a good trifecta at all. It'll be interesting to see what Roloson's injury is and what happens to these guys. I actually hope that Roloson can play, because if he can't, the Edmonton boys are done like dinner. And that is a shitty way to lose a shot at the Cup. If he's fine, we still have a great series ahead of us. If he's out, this thing is probably over already.
The Canes Make Me Think About Our Draft
Carolina drafted Eric Staal just three summers ago. That draft was known for not having a true, clear-cut No.1 draft pick. The Pens took goalie Fleury. The Canes grabbed Staal. Florida took Horton. Columbus picked up Zherdev. All four have been solid, but Staal was the first to break out, just this year. The Canes were terrible in 2002 to get the second overall pick. And now they are three wins from a Cup.
Today, the Blues hold the first overall pick in a draft that has no true, clear-cut No. 1 pick. And another Staal is available. A Staal that I've heard at least one scout describe as further along than Eric was in his draft year.
So, I'm in the 'Draft Jordan Staal' camp at this point. And for more than one reason. First, we need a forward. We need scoring and we need flash. We need a marketing tool. We need a kid who can play next year in the Note. Staal is all of these things. Defenseman Erik Johnson, the projected No. 1, is a great player. But he's probably three years from wearing a Note. At least. And even then, if we've learned anything from the Chris Pronger days, fans attach themselves to goalscorers more than they do to defensemen. Even if they are really good. I'm willing to bet that there are way more Keith Tkachuk jerseys on fans backs than Pronger jerseys (counting only the years that both were on the team). Fans like goals and skaters.
And here's another reason. At some point, the Staal boys (including middle brother Marc, a Rangers pick) will want to play together. Eric is the first one to be available. Wouldn't it be nice to make a pitch to put him in St. Louis on a line with fan fav Jordan? Sure this is pie in the sky, fantasy hockey league speculation, but don't you think that 25 year old UFA Eric Staal would at least come to St. Louis to hear what the team had to offer? Sure he would.
Some GT News.
The GT gear is finally on the way. Just in time for the draft, I guess. I expect to have the shirts and stickers available very soon. I also expect them to be pretty bad ass. I've been a total pain in the ass to our merch provider, and I'm wearing on their nerves, but I guess they're used to dealing with crazy people.
As soon as they are available, I'll link it up.
In other GT news, the staff will be congregating at GT HQ (opulent, I say!) on June 24th for a lil' get together. We'll be watching the draft in Vancouver and drinking a few whatevers.
The combination of new gear on the way and a Draft GT GT (Game Time Get Together) makes me want to have another contest. So, whoever can properly predict:
1. The Blues first pick of the day
2. One funny prediction from the GTGT (Gallagher getting drunk does NOT count - it's like predicting that the sun will go down).
Gets a GT T-shirt.
So, if you can drop a line to email@example.com that says:
1. Erik Johnson
2. Chris Gift spills his beer.
and that happens, you win.
1. Jordan Staal.
2. Chris Moresi gets caught going through Gallagher's medicine cabinet.
and that happens, you win.
Closest to the pin gets the nod, based on a vote by the attendees. So get your answers in now, children.