May 01 2012 02:02PM
If you're a Canucks fan, you probably had no idea who Dennis Bernstein was until a few weeks ago when he decided to start trolling a fanbase. When you click on his articles at The Fourth period, you're greeted by a mugshot of a man who isn't smiling. He is probably angry at how lousy his haircut is.
That is Dennis Bernstein. We focus a lot on narratives at Canucks Army, or, so to speak, we focus a lot on making sure that narratives are consistent with fact. There's nothing wrong with a good story, but there is something wrong in getting the components of the story wrong. Anyway, here is a fact: Dennis Bernstein wrote a piece on the Canucks' loss to the Los Angeles Kings called "Beached Whales", and it is really the worst thing you'll ever read.
The Canucks fooled us all. They had us believing a return trip to the Stanley Cup Finals was in the offing. After rallying in the regular season's final weeks to capture the President's Trophy, their top seed would carry them through the Western Conference to --hopefully-- exact revenge on their Game 7 slayer, the defending champion Boston Bruins.
Okay, sure. The team was playing well and they wanted to win the Stanley Cup. They sure fooled me.
While many fans fretted over the loss of Daniel Sedin, their 9-1 close cheered the prospect that with better defense and goaltending, they could hold the fort until the Swedish House Twins could be reunited to work the magic for four rounds. Instead of the Swedish House Mafia Twins, they got the Triple Clown Line.
Sometimes within the first few paragraphs, you can tell when a writer is really going to go off the rails. I don't know what "Triple Clown Line" is in reference to, and neither does Dennis Bernstein, but I guess it sounded funny so he kept it in.
So where do we start on this post mortem? The highest point of the organization, GM Mike Gillis, or the lowest, a backup goalie who had never won a playoff game and was tasked with saving the season by a coach who was outcoached every step of the way?
I don't know whether we can prove somebody was out-coached or not. All I know is that Vancouver was beaten by a better team, coaching aside. Cory Schneider has never won a playoff game before, because he had never gotten a decision in a playoff game before. Also, the defending Stanley Cup champions were ousted by a goalie who never had a playoff win before. Every goalie with a Stanley Cup has, at one point in their careers, never had a playoff win before. That is how counting works.
Ryan Kesler had hip surgery 10 months ago and although he was slow to recover as the season opened, he appeared to be at full speed coming into the post season.
Didn't Kesler have, like, no goals in the final 12 games of the regular season? If he "appeared" to be at full speed, nobody here was buying it. But Bernstein, who brags about his credentials, knows better than the average fan.
The gearing up to 100 percent didn't allow his to replicate his sterling prior season, a career high 41 goals and the Frank J. Selke Award for defensive wizardry that broke Pavel Datsyuk's stranglehold on the post season silverware.
"Kesler was real good, then he got hurt, and now he isn't as good. As such, he is a flawed individual."
From the first shift of Game 1, it was clear that through either the difficulty of a returning of an injury that impacts a hockey player more than other athletes or the inability to summon the mental strength to be in beast mode, the snarling stopper that chased the Predators and Sharks out of the playoffs was nowhere to be found.
Well, no, he was there, he just wasn't shooting at a 25% rate like he was last May. Because nobody can just summon 25% shooting upon playoff time out of the blue. "Kesler scored goals in the playoffs last year, ergo he will this year." When that statement turns out to be wrong, it doesn't have as much to do with Kesler as it does with your thinking.
Only after the playoffs ended did word drift out about a Kesler shoulder injury, hopefully the reason that his game evaporated and not years of playing a power game taking its toll.
This is "narrative": when you cite unproven causes as a reason for why things happened or didn't happen, without the slightest hint of attribution. You may as well write this: "Kesler was bad. Maybe it was because he was hurt. Or maybe not." Which I guess would be more factual than saying "his game evaporated" because maybe of "years of playing a power game" that Ryan Kesler doesn't play.
David Booth, who had a quizzical meltdown on Twitter the day after being eliminated to the Kings, is as culpable as his American counterpart. Traded in-season for veterans Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm, the thought was that Booth would pair with the Sedins to form an unstoppable combination given the speed at which all play the game. He had never played a playoff game for his former team, the Florida Panthers, and was the poster child for the failure over the past decade in Broward County.
That's sort of rough, hinging the Panthers' misfortunes on a guy who was there for three complete seasons.
The Canucks gained some cap space and jettisoned two veterans for a 27-year-old forward inked to a multi-year deal. While the deal looked solid on its face, when the other GM is Dale Tallon, the guy with a superb eye for talent and who took on heavy deals like Brian Campbell and Kris Versteeg, chooses to deal away a top six forward from a team that would up tied for last in scoring in the Eastern Conference, it spells 'huge red flag.'
I don't often swear when I write, but I want to here. Here are Mike Gillis and Dale Tallon's respective records as general managers:
|Win Percentage||Avg. Goal differential|
Mike Gillis best known for being the guy who brought down Alan Eagleson. Dale Tallon is best known as the guy who forgot to qualify his RFAs one year.
On the day Tallon pulled the trigger, he bid Booth adieu by saying, "We hope David can re-kindle his career."
Did he or didn't he, Dennis? The world is hanging onto your every word.
On to Alexandre Burrows,
Or not. I guess we don't care about David Booth's career.
one of those skilled chirpers, the guy you love when he's on your side and despise when he speeds down the ice and gets 28-35 goals over the past four seasons. A study in never giving up on your dream, Burrows was an undrafted free agent who took the circuitous route that started with three years hard labor in the ECHL to a game winning goal in Game 7 of Round 1 of the 2011 Playoffs that saved the Canucks from the infamy of being only the fourth team in NHL playoff history to blow a 3-0 lead.
That's very clunky, but it works.
When the series' first goal hit the back of the net less than five minutes and the owner was Burrows, the Vancouver faithful had visions of another production, instigating long playoff run in their heads.
What? No, that's stupid.
The Kings had other ideas as they rallied and overtook the Canucks in the final stanza and as the first chapter of the story came to a close, LA's Mike Richards made a play that encapsulated what was to come for the Canucks over the next ten days.
I can forgive bad writing if the writer thinks well. I can't stand the prose of George RR Martin or Stieg Larsson's translator, but I kept reading those book series because the stories were compelling. This is just bad writing, and bad thinking. This is hockey writing's equivalent to the film Daredevil.
Richards spied Burrows at Vancouver's blue line and crushed him into oblivion for the balance of the series; he never recorded another point and recorded only two shots in the final two games.
Also, at the conclusion of Game 1, Burrows taunted Richards with snowflakes on his stick-blade, referencing possible cocaine usage. This knocked Richards off his game so much so that he never recorded another point and recorded only three shots in the final two games.
Wait, that's all factual information, but it sounds stupid. It sounds stupid because it IS stupid. Of course a gesture made by Burrows wasn't the cause for Richards' low production.
Grinders Christopher Higgins and Max Lapierre looked to give the third and fourth lines some character, skill and the opportunity to pot a goal, and disturb the opposition's top line.
Dennis sets back defenders of the Oxford comma into the Middle Ages.
Hopes were higher for Higgins coming off a revival regular season that recalled his productive and dangerous days in Montreal. Lapierre is a sandpaper player who kicked in nine goals as a bonus on top of his 244 hits thrown that ranked him eleventh in the league.
Every single Canuck is getting profiled, with all their regular season accomplishments getting built up so that it sounds worse when Bernstein points out that they didn't score goals in a five-game series.
But like their aforementioned teammates, this pair came up small when it counted, Higgins failed to hit the score sheet while Max's most noted achievement was that head coach Alain Vigneault took the unprecedented step of telling a disturber to shut up and play.
The games only count when stupid writers tell you they count. Sometimes it's in the first round, sometimes it's the Stanley Cup Final. The Canucks "didn't score when it counted" last year, which was the Final, apparently meaning their first round goals didn't count as much. 29 teams get eliminated. As such, they didn't score goals when they counted.
Dale Tallon, despite signing every player who was a UFA and had scored a playoff goal in his life to four-year contracts, saw his team lose because they didn't score when it really counted.
The defense suffered as a unit without the talented Ehrhoff eating 23-25 minutes a night on the top pairing.
Christian Ehrhoff was fourth in even strength time on ice. He was second-pairing, but on the top powerplay unit, which hardly makes him "top pairing".
Edler is as gifted as any on the blueline but the Los Angeles series showed that he may be ill-suited to be the lead dog on a championship squad.
No shit? Which is why Alain Vigneault played Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis more.
He's certainly a keeper over the long term but the organizational claim that they couldn't afford to keep Ehrhoff should be hurtful to fan base that's sold out the building an amazing 406 consecutive times.
What the fuck?
While Kevin Bieksa's best performance was fooling a confused radio reporter into thinking he was Kesler and Dan Hamhuis goes into the summer with an exclamation point of him lying prone on the ice as Jarret Stoll speeding off to win the series, they are part of a core unit that is gifted if lacking the physicality of a Nashville or Los Angeles.
Also, what the fuck? This is just awful writing. I don't even know where to start with these last two. The Canucks continuing to play Edler is treason to their loyal fans? Dan Hamhuis made a bad giveaway in a crucial moment an that means that Kevin Bieksa lacks physicality? What?
The general manager is clearly not pleased with the direction of what it takes to win in the playoffs, "the retreat from what kind of play we've created over last three years makes no sense to me," but may have to surrender to the flavor of the month and provide more muscle if favor of puck movement. So while the debate starts on what to do with most of the chess pieces on the board, it's already raging on what to do with the White King.
Except in reality, Mike Gillis is being criticized for perhaps making the team "too tough". Write about goalies, Dennis.
Though he led the team to 15 post season wins and within 60 poorly played minutes in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, much of the blame for the first round ouster is laid at the feet of Roberto Luongo.
Do the people who read Dennis Bernstein not watch hockey? That must be the case, because I don't know of anybody who watches hockey who actually reads Dennis Bernstein.
Forget that his team was terrible on special teams and they were missing their true MVP in Daniel Sedin, one of many panic moves was to replace the goalie with 339 regular season and 32 regular season triumphs for an unproven yet talented netminder with zero playoff victories.
Rippling condescension: "true MVP". Edgy analysis. Cool, bro. Also, in a paragraph about Luongo, Bernstein referenced Daniel Sedin and Cory Schneider. Is he high? He must be high. He doesn't just have a mushroom cut, he has a psilocybinic mushroom cut.
Prior to manning the cage for Game 3 in Los Angeles, the last playoff memory he had was being unable to continue due to cramping in Game 6 of last season's first round matchup against Chicago.
Except it wasn't: Schneider made appearances in both Game 4 and 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, stopping 37 of 39 shots.
Schneider played well, but surrendered a big rebound on Dustin Brown's game winning goal and put a win on the board in Game 4 only because Vancouver's slumbering power play awakened with the reuniting of the Sedins.
HE STOPPED 43 SHOTS THAT GAME! Christ.
Cory was staked to a lead in Game 5, but when he overplayed a Drew Doughty rush, he was out of position of Brad Richardson tying marker and early in overtime Stoll's short side wrist shot eluded him on the short side.
He's awful, and we ought to run him out of town.
While his save percentage was high, his winning percentage wasn't.
When Schneider couldn't rally the team to victory in Game 3, Vigneault should have gone back to his proven netminder...
But they won Game 4. You can't just ignore the events that happened.
...and admitted the spark he was looking for came from a Swedish winger not who was between the pipes. You can't end the series with the dude who took you four rounds sitting on the bench.
I'd be very careful to deal away Luongo as Schneider is the owner of one of the best jobs in sports, the backup goaltender. Cory's backers point to his sterling numbers; the high save percentage and low goals-against-average as the burden of proof that he should be the incumbent next season.
"Some would tell you that Cory Schneider ought to be an NHL starting goaltender because he makes a lot of saves and prevents a lot of goals." But Dennis knows better.
And that's why statistics are for losers.
Not kidding, I saw on a Canadian journalists forum a video on how to calculate percentages. It's not that a lot of traditional journalists think statistics are for losers, it's that so few of them have a grasp on what they mean. But, no, carry on with the "facts suck" routine.
Schneider finished with 21-10-1 record when you pair his regular season and playoffs, but when you go behind the numbers, they're not as strong as his supporters advocate.
That's not bad. How are they not as strong?
Schneider's caddy role is there to give the big horse a breather and the same is true with the Canucks. Cory was 14-5 against non-playoff teams and 7-5-1 versus the 16 teams that qualified for the post season.
That is a 95-point pace against playoff teams. Holy shit.
He's never won a big game in the regular season or playoffs
At 26 years of age and still more AHL then NHL wins on his record
"My statistics are for winners. Your statistics are for losers."
Where Gillis missed the mark was not going all in on a deal for Rick Nash at the deadline.
Man, if you thought David Booth was underwhelming...
Schneider, Cody Hodgson, Mason Raymond and Keith Ballard would have been a package no team could match and now the assets either aren't there or are seriously devalued.
Dennis Bernstein totally posts on HF Boards:
"Hi guys I'm new to hockey and this forum who are some good players I can play with in NHL 2012 thanks"
The Canucks are far from a car crash
A car reference that doesn't involve a riot joke. This is where I can at least give him some credit.