February 18 2014 11:45AM
You know things have come to a screeching halt in Canucks Nation when you are pondering doing a "Where Are They Now?" piece on Mason freaking Raymond.
I am a big believer in not forcing through articles that I don't believe in, so rather than bore you all with an introspective look on Mason Raymond's year with the Leafs (Fun Fact: He had pancakes for breakfast yesterday....please don't face check that Dimitri), I figure I might as well use this Olympic break to simply talk about the main attraction of the Olympics (my apologies to curling fan Cam Charron), the men's hockey tournament. Since everything is sped up during a tournament like this, and one game can make the difference between excellent showing versus "You let our country down, we hope you burn in a fire", I figured it would be fun to hand out awards based on the world's smallest sample size of three games.
Who has impressed? Who has failed? Who has surprised? Let's dive into this and find out!
The John Tavares Is Awesome award
This one came out of left field, but John Tavares wins the JT is Awesome award (Kunitz was a close runner up). Tavares has impressed me during the three Olympic games so far, making several passes that have me going "What kind of idiot makes that pass....oh it got through, that was a nice pass". He is one of those players that just makes you focus on him during his shifts because odds are he is doing something very nifty out there. He even managed to let Vlasic have an offensive opportunity, which Vlasic promptly shot into the goalies crest.
Now I have a feeling Thomas Drance has 18 notebooks full of stats on how Tavares is great, but not as great as Crosby so far, but for my money Tavares has been one of the best Canadian players in the Olympics. He doesn't get a lot of media attention out West playing on the Islanders, so it's a treat to get to watch him play.
The Wayne Gretzky on The Canucks... (What If?) award
This award goes to Steven Stamkos. Watching Tavares play wing, one can only dream of what it would look like if JT and Stamkos were playing together. I know, many might imagine what it would have looked like if Crosby was playing with Stamkos, but that might mean separating Kunitz from Crosby for more than a game or two, and we wouldn't want that. Plus Tavares could probably hook Stamkos up with his sweet "Old Navy Head Shott" photographer, which Crosby has been sorely lacking for years.
I have just been told by Canucks Army that I haven't used a chart yet, so here we go:
Did I mention Mason Raymond had pancakes for breakfast?
Ed Belfour Award of Participation
The EBAP has a long and storied tradition of going to players who get a sniff of the Olympics, just long enough to get a medal that they can use to entertain family members with exaggerated stories ("True story, Sidney Crosby's spleen fell out and I had to put it back in. Without me, we might never have won.")
With Babcock recently being quoted as saying PK and Hamhuis "haven't got much of a chance" of getting more ice time this tournament, the award has to go to PK, simply because regardless of how well Canada does, it is kind of weird to see a reigning Norris trophy winner on the bench.
Now, if you drill down into it and examine the Norris trophy, yes, you can make arguments that PK doesn't play against the tough competition that other highly touted defenseman play against (unless you want to double down your drilling and negate that finding...yay stats wars!), but nobody can argue PK's offensive instincts would have been fun to watch on Olympic ice. It's enough of a surprise that were there an award for "If only HE had been playing..." should Canada lose, PK would have won that one too. Alas, these awards cannot simply be made up like that, there is a rigorous voting process that involves a four year waiting period, but I won't bore you with the details.
Dan Hamhuis, on the other hand, was a surprise to make the team, and let's face it, nobody was really saying "I can't wait to see Hamhuis use his body positioning along the boards on international ice" so it isn't as much of a shock to see him hit the bench.
On a side note, I'm pretty sure Tavares hooked Subban up with his "Old Navy" head shot guy...
Despite Him award
One of the leading hobbies for "angry at the world" enthusiasts in 2010 was to break down hours upon hours of film to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Team Canada won gold DESPITE Roberto Luongo. Things hit Zapruder film level of obsession as people broke down frame after frame to show how on certain plays, Luongo's saves were criminally over rated. That save on Pavelski in overtime? A toddler could have made it. What's more important is how Luongo extended his blocker at a 34 degree angle on a save earlier in the game, which proves that he was shaky, and as a result, a terrible goalie.
Now, Price hasn't faced that level of scrutiny yet, but he is the guy who will should the team lose (Kunitz was a closer runner up). It's a weird spot to be in for any goalie for Team Canada, as they are expected to win gold every time, so any loss often falls on the goalies head, while wins get attributed to the overwhelming fire power up front. Luckily for Price, he probably won't face the same levels of scrutiny Luongo did. Luongo at the time (we should probably label Luongo with a PT and AT timeline, pre-Twitter and after-Twitter) wasn't a twitter star and many people felt he was arrogant and stand offish. This lead them to go out of their way to discredit him. Luongo PT was a different time....
WTF DID YOU SEE THAT?? award
The correct answer is no, no you did not see it, because it was too fast. Shea Weber of course is the life time recipient of the "Get him on the Canucks. Now. NOW NOW NOW." award.
He Has a Pass award
Sidney Crosby hasn't hit the score board in a visible way, which has led to many people wondering when he will heat up. For my money, Crosby can do whatever he wants this tournament under the "He won us gold last time" clause, in which I don't care what he does this Olympics due to his heroics in Vancouver.
That being said, Crosby is one of those guys you just don't have to bother worrying about. More often than not, he will be the guy to make a big play, so to everyone thinking about freaking out over Crosby, he will probably do something amazing and make us all forget about his slow start.
Either that, or he will do another Tim Horton's commercial. Either way, Sid is going to be on your TV. Every day. Every where. For the next 5-10 years.
We Were on a Break award
I don't think words can ever truly describe how much I hate this fraud lady....her commercials are on during the Canucks games. All. The. Time. And not even during great games, games where I can go "oh that's ok fraud lady, this five goal lead the Canucks have has me in a good mood!" No, she appears during 5-2 losses to the Edmonton freaking Oilers. The last thing I want to hear is your voice when the Canucks are burning in a tire fire in front of my eyes.
So imagine my horror when she appeared during the Olympic games as well. I thought we had a reprieve from her, but no, there she was, in all her stupid Queen of Shiba glory.
Look, I don't want to tell people how to run their ad campaigns, but when I am siding heavily with the guy committing investment fraud, odds are you're doing it wrong.
Anyways, who has surprised you so far during the Olympics? Who do you like? Do you wish Giroux were here instead of Kunitz? Do you care if Canada performs poorly during these Olympics? How many pancakes did Mason Raymond eat, you think? Weigh in and let me know!