Black Ice Issue #34 — Hair Raising Tilt

I do not have a problem with hair pulling. It is just part of the game. Some might ask, is it necessary to punctuate the flow of the contest. I say, maybe maybe not.

Reality in the heat of battle can often be blurred as attempts to overcome reaches desperate proportions. Case in point Sunday evening in Chicago when Alexander Burrows dragged Brent Seabrook to the ice by his flowing biff and continued to tug on his mane as they tussled horizontal on the ice. All of this the result of an punch to the mask of Luongo by Dustin Byfuglien after an unsuccessful rush by the Hawks. Concurrent to the melee was Shane O’Brien going batshit crazy after seeing the Luongo incident on the Jumbotron. The hotheaded Irish kid proceeds to make bongo drums out of any Hawk available on the ice. And Kevin Bieksa jumped into the fray with ….. a happened to lose not only half his equipment but also about half a pint of blood on the surface of Chicago Stadium.

The entire incident had a comic appeal and resulted in over 80 penalty minutes being issued by official. And begs the often asked question: is fighting necessary and how should it be regulated?

Apart from being the statement game of the season for the Canucks and a possible preview of a first round match up, the game was a case study in how physicality is such a benchmark of the game. With players able police their actions on the ice (while officials police the police action) it forces players to remain accountable to their actions on the ice. Dustin Byfuglien intentionally smack Luongo in the mask, so he must answer the bell.

A physical team is not necessary to win a championship (see Detroit 2008) but it certainly helps (see Anaheim 2007). A hearty mixture is probably your best option when entering the playoffs and both the Canucks and Blackhawks seem to have both in spades, toughness and a host of talented players.

The Sedins/Burrows combined for a eye popping nine points on route to a 4-0 lopsided victory on enemy ice. What was most telling of their performance was all three of their goals were scored even strength. Now with the clubs power-play sneaking up the ranks to a reasonable 18.3% and their penalty-kill at a respectable 80.7% their special teams are starting to perform at a clutch capacity suitable for playoff hockey. Combine that with the gritty production of Ryan Kesler and rigid goaltending of the Roberto Luongo and you have a dangerous combination of skill and resolve to enter the post-season.

If the Canucks have to gauge out eyeballs and yank out tufts of hair to win the Stanley Cup, that is fine with me.

Whatcha think?