In Which We Bring Roy MacGregor To Task

via blog.russos.net

I rarely go into the weeds when some clown who clearly doesn't watch this team feels obliged to pretend he does, but I'm not letting Roy MacGregor walk away unscathed. 

First off, the picture should tell you everything about the guy. No where in that profile do I see "hockey", "NHL" or "sports" as an accolade; I do see one his articles that fawns over Luongo in the first round which is a bit strange considering his latest contribution to the halls of journalistic excellence.

Let's set the record straight.

Given that there is a country song for every occasion, perhaps the Vancouver Canucks should consider a little Garth Brooks before each game – and take to heart that chorus that tells them to "Stand straight, walk proud, have a little faith. …"

What a delightful little colloquialism. By that same token there is a thrash polka christian song for every occasion. But since the opponent is Nashville and they're nothing more than a city full of country music slaves, let's open with that.

The Canucks spent so much of this week denying that there is any issue over confidence when it came to holding leads that, unfortunately, the talk only served to confirm that there must be.

Permit me to rephrase: "We kept asking you guys about your confidence since that's the shitty narrative we created, so because I saw a third period lead evaporate, that is proof positive you're all a bunch of fragile spider monkeys with sticks. [STICKS FINGERS IN EARS, SINGS LOUDLY TO SELF, WRITES ANOTHER CHILDREN'S BOOK]

They get a lead; they can’t hold it.

In eleven playoff games they've "held the lead" and won in regulation five times. That's 45%, so let's crucify them for needing OT twice? Chicago needed the OT three times last year and, as we know, they sure sucked. But don't let any of this stop your asinine theme.

They might win the game, but every time they play they lose a little more faith in their position as not only the best team in the National Hockey League, but the most effective third-period team the regular season produced.

You may be the only one around still thinking the regular season means something in May. The Canucks personnel, our plucky coach and every other team still playing are on record saying the exact opposite. I don't see them hauling the Presidents' Trophy around with them do you? In fact if the regular season was 100% applicable to now, why are the Capitals golfing? (Helpful hint Roy: The Caps play in red and are usually found in Washington D.C.).

They had a .927 winning percentage in games in which they led in the third period. They scored 100 third-period goals – tops in the NHL.

But that was then and this is now. And this is the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Ah ha, look at you correcting yourself one paragraph later. That, sir, deserves a snackpack of applesauce.

Twice this week against the Nashville Predators the Canucks let third-period leads slip away – both tying goals absolute groaners – and had to settle matters in overtime, losing once and winning once.

It happened again Thursday night when, up 2-1 heading into the third, yet another groaner – even if somewhat less egregious than the previous two – found its way between Roberto Luongo’s pads to tie a game in the final frame.

Saturday's goal was a gift from God, a shot from behind the net which found the right bounces. On Tuesday the game tying goal was a result of Ward causing havoc in front and the puck bouncing off Alberts' skate. Fransen's shot last night was a laser no one in the arena realized went in, the refs included. So of the three equalizers in the past week, one was a "groaner" and two were legit hockey plays that any goalie would have had trouble with. Follow up question: would Edler's goal last night qualify as "groaner" for Rinne? What goal doesn't qualify as a groaner?

The victory was gratifying, as Vancouver has been by far the better team, but the late goal simply raised, once again, that old bugaboo concerning Luongo – can he win the games that truly matter?

He's won two game sevens in his career, backstopped the only sweep this team has had in its history and is playing just as well - if not better - than that Vezina-nominated chap at the other end of the ice, sitting one win away from a conference final. If the Cup is the only thing that matters, there are precious few goalies in that club to say they've won "the games that truly matter." It's a team sport Roy: your goalie can't win the whole damn thing anymore (see, for example, the NY Rangers). Perhaps a better question for another mind numbing piece of yours would be examining how the team failed in front of him during the last two years against Chicago and again in two games during the first round, but that's already been examined by authors and bloggers who watch this team. So if you want to whip out the mallet and beat the shit out of this horse, please do it away from the keyboard. Won't you please think of the children, your normal audience?

It is the albatross around his neck, the gorilla on his back, the animal inside his head. It is a cruel knock that he has never been allowed to shed – not even with a gold-medal victory in last year’s Olympics, when Sidney Crosby’s goal allowed the thousands of Luongo doubters to take their first breath since the puck dropped in overtime.

"A cruel knock" from the guy writing the drive-by hit piece? What's your encore: lighting a house on fire just to bemoan condemning the building?

Such is the reality of ridiculous expectations. Such is the hidden price of a 12-year contract that makes you, at $10- million (U.S.) a year, the game’s highest-paid player. Such is what happens when you are 32, considered one of the game’s premier goaltenders – a finalist for the Vézina Trophy during the regular season – and you have been unable to deliver a championship.

I can only assume you have the same compelling material ripping Ovechkin (the previous most expensive player in hockey) a new one, yes? Wait, you don't? That's right, I just had to explain to you where the Capitals play.

Perhaps it is because Luongo is so good, as well as so big, that his errors also seem larger than life. When a weak goal goes in, it looks … awful.

...opps, fell to the floor and was spasming under my desk. Now he's "so big"? Have you been hanging out with Pierre McGuire?

Luongo’s teammates are acutely aware that he is both extremely talented and at times inexplicably vulnerable. When Kesler was on the United States team that met Canada in the Olympic final, he spoke openly of knowing that Luongo "has a couple of areas that I think we can exploit – and I’m sure not going to keep any secrets."

Dusting off another classic? If you'd like to point to any quote where anyone claimed Luongo was impenetrable, feel free to share the insight. Otherwise every goalie has their weaknesses. Kesler would have been an idiot not to share those secrets and with teammates like Backes and Kane, believe me they didn't need insider tips to beat Luongo.

Luongo struggled in the Olympics against Slovakia – allowing a harmless backhander from an impossible angle to begin a comeback that almost succeeded – but did win the game that counted. It has not, however, counted for enough, as the questions remain and his teammates are forced, day after day, to say any problem lies with the team, not the goaltender.

That's quite the segue: against Slovakia on an Olympic team to the second round of the playoffs a year later. Completely identical situations. Also is it even remotely possible that when the teammates suggest problems lie with the team that they're - put the applesauce down for a second Roy, I don't want you spilling - telling the truth? I know it doesn't fit with your story, but I guess neither does being objective or thorough.

Of the late goals that slipped into the Vancouver net and sent games into overtime, Vigneault argued that "both were tipped in our net.

"Those are hockey plays, lucky breaks."

Or unlucky, if you happen to be the one wearing the largest pads on the team.

Gotcha. Luongo isn't allowed to let in another goal the rest of his life because, should he dare to look human, it confirms he is also unlucky which Roy has now plainly redefined as being Roberto Luongo.

It just seems, Daniel Sedin said before Thursday’s Game 4 against the Predators, "you’re up one goal, there’s one shot, one rebound, and they tie the game."

It doesn’t matter how they go in – off skates, off bodies, off rebounds – the goalie wears it.

And will wear it until he proves, once and for all, that he can win the Big One.

Besides exposing he doesn't watch Canucks games, Roy is also proving he doesn't watch the Preds either. I'm far from a Nashville expert, but most people who follow the sport know their resiliency is one of their assets. They grind you down and force mistakes. But in Roy's world it's more important to assess blame down to the individual while ignoring the basic team chemistry of playoff hockey. I'm sorry Nashville, all those goals you scored on Vancouver? It's not the result of hard work or opportunistic play, it's allllll because our goalie is "unlucky."

What's a shame is Roy could have taken the title of his piece - "Spurts of vulnerability" - and shown how every team is guilty of this, from Vancouver & Washington to Phoenix, Los Angeles or Pittsburgh. That no matter how you made the dance, hockey is a game of ebbs and flows; a dramatic comedy that surges high and plummets low, from one shift to the next, fueled by the madness of the line-juggling coaches, the skill of the players and, yes, good old luck. Instead he ran off with a tired narrative that was barely relevant a few years ago. Anyone who can read a stat sheet or simply watch a game could have told him that.

Perhaps Roy should stick to children's stories where his audience won't haul his ass to task when he careens off the road into the absurd.

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