CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 21: Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks follows the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on March 21, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Canucks 2-1 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
It never really ends, does it? One deceitful, dishonest narrative gets torn down and another one appears. 'Friends don't let friends act like Canucks' says the Chicago Tribune's Steve Rosenbloom. He lays out the allegation that Alex Burrows kneed Duncan Keith in the groin. Much like the fabled fishhook that caused Burrows to pull Keith's hair in that gongshow brawl a couple years back, there was sketchy video evidence at best. Did he really do it. Why don't you upholders of hockey's moral code show us the obviously solid as a rock video evidence you're basing this claim on. Sure, Rosenbloom calls Keith out in the article. But doing so under the header of 'Keith acts like a Canuck' is as pathetic and cowardly as Keith's hit and his refusal to answer the bell afterwards. The Boston media have nothing on Chicago's crew, marching in lockstep with both the team's desire to see this swept aside as easily as possible as well as their more embarrassing sector of fans, who have not only suggested that Daniel Sedin deserved the hit, but is also obviously, under orders of the Canucks, faking injury to milk this for all it's worth. Deja-vu. I would suggest to Mr. Rosenbloom, as well as Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago, who has been implying since last night that any injury to Sedin is being played up by the Canucks, that they be more concerned about trends amongst their own team. True friends don't let friends act like Daniel Carcillo.
The real insulting part about it all, is Keith's defence. Unlike Brad Marchand's South Park defence, Keith is using a different tactic, one that smacks more of something he read on Twitter than actually thought up himself: He claims to have not felt the hit from Daniel that preceded his own. So instead of trying to just claim it was a hockey play gone wrong (which, considering the puck was nowhere near Sedin, he can't) he is instead trying desperately to downplay the glaring evidence that he was out for blood against Daniel. Henrik said after the game Keith told him as much. Now we all know that unless an on-ice official heard it, it's not gonna change things. But the video evidence is pretty damning on it's own. So Keith has chosen to act the stereotypical highschool thug who got his nose bloodied during one of his beatdowns of a victim: "I didn't even feel the first hit". Throw in the prerequisite quips about speed of the game and not being sure where the puck is to paint himself as a victim of circumstance and there you go, a defence that Lionel Hutz would be proud of. And to all of you spouting the nonsense that Keith has never done anything like this before and isn't dirty: you're wrong (mostly). Yes, Duncan Keith has no suspension on his record. That comes via the process of wiping a player's slate clean after a paltry amount of time. Duncan Keith has in fact elbowed people in the head. Not once. Twice.
The likelihood of these teams meeting again in the playoffs? Kinda slim. Those who write off Dallas or Phoenix in a first round series against a Hawks team that's had goaltending issues all season, and still doesn't have a clue when or if Jonathan Toews will return from his concussion might be in for a surprise. This is still very much the Chicago team that backed into the playoffs last season when Dallas did them a solid, pulling a no-show on the last day of the season. Don't expect them to be as generous this time around. And yeah, the irony of Blackhawks fans upset (and deservedly so) about the loss of Toews thanks to a head injury howling with delight over Keith's despicable act isn't lost on any of us. Karma's a bitch though, and it's obvious Chicago hasn't clued in on that yet.
So with Daniel shipped back to Vancouver to see team specialists, we're in a bigger mess than we were prior to last night's game. While there were moments of the Canucks we've seen way too much of last night, we also saw the kind of passion and fire that pushed this team to the Stanley Cup Finals last season. Did the switch get flipped last night? I would hesitate to say yes, but I am damn sure the lock that was on it was smashed into a thousand pieces. Henrik Sedin and Mason Raymond both had imporved, downright inspired performances, as did Roberto Luongo. It sucks to see him give up a bounce like that, hell it's a crappy way to end a game at the worst of times, let alone one with bitter rivals.
So now we're off to Dallas, minus our top scorer of course. So that sees Manny Malhotra back in, and Cory Schneider in goal, Roberto Luongo getting a well deserved night off. So how will the Canucks respond tonight? Well, take one part residual anger from last night's travesty, and the fresh memories of a Dallas team that lit them up at home a couple weeks ago as well as used some questionable officiating to steal a game on their last visit here, and I think we'll see that switch is in fact, flipped on tonight. The onus will be on the rest of the team to get back to the kind of hockey they're capable of playing. Henrik, Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis, Alex Edler and the rest of the Canucks are going to have to put last night aside, but keep the flame that was ignited and move forward, because it could be a long time before their top scorer is back on the ice.
KICKASS METAL TUNE OF THE DAY
While as Twitchy pointed out, I missed a rather important metal anniversary earlier in the week with the 30th anniversary of the death of Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads, today is a far more positive one. 30 years ago today one of the greatest metal albums of all time was unleashed on the world: Iron Maiden's Number Of The Beast. The first to feature new vocalist Bruce Dickenson, the multi-platinum selling album made them international superstars. An interesting note: One of the guys in the devil suits in the Number Of The Beast video was none other than Nicko McBrain, who would go on to replace Clive Burr as Iron Maiden's drummer. Here's a trio of clips from the album: the title track along with Run To The Hills and Hallowed Be Thy Name.