Monday, May 19, 2008

We lose! And I find it hard to care.

Somehow, I just can't get into the World Hockey Championships the way I can the Olympics or the Stanley Cup playoffs. I've been watching the Detroit-Dallas series, every game, and I'm really getting behind Dtroit. Although of course I would love to see Dallas make history and come back from 3-0, I just love watching Detroit. The way Datsyuk and Zetterberg are able to just keep the puck on their sticks for so long, circling the net and the offensive zone and never giving it up. Watching Nik Lidstrom is amazing too - the guy never makes a mistake. Sure, it's kind of boring to watch a guy never screw up, but I find my eyes drawn to him every time he's on the ice. He's magnificent. And the Pittsburgh series - it's been amazing to watch Crosby, Malkin, Hossa and Staal lighting it up with that team, which is so incredibly offensively gifted that it makes me excited for every game, even if it's against Phildelphia, and I hate the Flyers. Well, they're gone, anyway.

And I have been watching the World Championships, even though I can't get into that hockey as much. Oh sure, I want Canada to win, but it makes little difference to me if they do. Watching that gold medal game yesterday, I was as excited to watch Ovechkin as I was to watch Heatley. Kovalchuk and Semin and Fedorov are probably more interesting than Getzlaf and Spezza and Nash. OK, not Nash. That guy's some kind of international highlight reel unto himself. But what it comes down to for me is that this really isn't "Team Canada". And they're not playing "Team Russia". It's Team Best-Canada-Can-Get vs. Team Best-Russia-Can-Get. Is there any doubt we would have seen Malkin vs. Crosby had Pittsburgh been knocked out early? Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Modano, Briere - they would all have been in the Worlds had they not made it to the conference finals. So who knows, really, how Canada or Russia or Sweden actually stack up on a world scale? In the end, I watch the Worlds simply for the great hockey. Finland looked fantastic in that bronze medal game on Saturday. The hockey is wide-open and exciting, featuring the best players in the world. But I don't even try to cheer for anyone any more.

And one more thing - how come TSN or Sportsnet or anyone else who covers internationa hockey, during the World Hockey or the Olympics or anything else, has to do it differently than they do NHL hockey? We hockey fans are used to looking at the time on the screen and expecting that to be the time left in the period. Why do all NHL games on TV count down, and the international hockey games count up? I know, I know, it's attached to the scoreboard, and that's how it works, but it seems fairly easy to adjust your graphics so they count down and not up. And I, as a hockey fan, am also used to seeing one team highlighted when they have a power play, not when they have a penalty and are short-handed. It doesn't seem like a stretch to suggest that keeping the same basic template you have for the NHL games would make it easier on us regular hockey fans. Just a thought.

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